It has happened to all of us. We see a friend or relative share an apparently current news story with a headline on Facebook, only to open the link and find out that it was written three years ago and contains outdated information. Sighs
Fortunately, that should happen much sooner. Starting today, Facebook is launching a feature that will warn users before they share an article over 90 days old. You’ll see the notification if you click the share button on an old article, but it’s not clear if it works by simply copying and pasting a link. Of course, sometimes old news is relevant, so you can still share the piece if you want after clicking the warning.
Facebook says that “the timeliness of an article is an important context that helps people decide what to read, trust and share” and that publishers are concerned about old news that misinterprets current events. After all, just think of all the headlines you read and ignore; Even if you never click on an article, your perception of current events is likely colored by what you see people sharing in your feeds. And as a reporter, it has long been clear that many readers never bother to read the general lines, let alone the dates. Some editors have even started to put their own labels on old pieces just to clarify the context.
Facebook is also considering other types of warning labels, such as providing additional context on COVID-19 related articles, including background on the link source and a link to its COVID-19 Information Center for more reliable health information. .
Twitter recently piloted a feature that would warn people before sharing an article that they don’t actually have to read. Along with the Facebook update today, it’s nice to see social media giants take a more proactive approach to fighting disinformation on their platforms, especially as the U.S. general election is fast approaching.