Facebook to warn users before they share outdated news

Facebook has announced that it will begin showing notification screens to users who are about to share content which is more than 90 days old and could therefore be misleading when viewed out of context.

The new feature was announced by Facebook VP for Feed and Stories John Hegeman on the Facebook blog. Hegeman acknowledged that news taken out of context – including outdated news recirculating – plays a role in spreading misinformation, and that both users and publishers want information shared on Facebook to be timely and credible.

“Over the past several months, our internal research found that the timeliness of an article is an important piece of context that helps people decide what to read, trust, and share,” he wrote. “News publishers in particular have expressed concerns about older stories being shared on social media as current news, which can misconstrue the state of current events.”

Many news publishers have taken steps to address this problem on their websites by prominently labelling older articles, he said. In contrast, Facebook users cannot see on their News Feed how old a news article is without clicking on it; it only shows the time that a user shared the article. This can lead to people unknowingly sharing information which is no longer accurate.

Facebook will take action against this by introducing a notification screen, which appears when users click 'share' under content which is more than 90 days old. The notification only serves as a nudge and does not prevent sharing of outdated articles; it gives users the choice between going back or continuing in the knowledge that the story is out of date.

Outdated news alert screen on Facebook

Outdated news alert screen on Facebook

Image credit: Facebook

Facebook will begin rolling out the notifications from today.

Hegeman said that Facebook is now considering introducing notification screens to reduce other forms of misinformation, including notification screens about Covid-19 which direct users to trusted sources of information about the pandemic via the Facebook Covid-19 Information Center.

Facebook and other social media platforms have been increasingly using notification screens to encourage users to reconsider before they post content which could be misleading or otherwise harmful. Last year, Facebook-owned Instagram began showing pop-up messages before users posted offensive comments and Twitter has recently started nudging users to read articles before they share links to them.

Facebook said that experiments with the Instagram notification screen had shown promise in encouraging civil behaviour on the platform.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles