Social media giant, Facebook, has announced a new feature that will see users get a pop-up asking whether they have read an article that they intend to share. This feature, which takes effect today, was announced yesterday on Twitter.
Although the pop-up will prompt users to read the article, they can still share without reading it. Per The Verge, this feature will be rolled out to 6% of Android users worldwide.
This new feature borrows a leaf from Twitter which started testing a feature that prompts users to read an article before they share it. Individuals and governments have frequently accused Facebook of aiding the spread of fake news with its platforms, with 1,000 companies going as far as protesting by not advertising on the platform in July 2020.
This is likely an attempt by Facebook to combat the spread of fake news or conspiracy theories on its platform. However, this is not Facebook’s first attempt to do so. Ahead of the UK’s general elections in 2019, it announced that it would remove fake accounts and reduce the reach of articles that had been debunked by independent third-party fact-checkers.
Governments, on their part, have made attempts to limit the spread of misinformation. In 2018, Germany enacted its Network Enforcement Act (the NetzDG law), which mandated social media companies to set up procedures to review complaints about content hosted on their platform. Facebook fell foul of the new regulation and was hit with a €2 million fine in 2019.
It's 2021, and users can still share an article without reading it. Those who believe that this move is, at best, Facebook's attempt to appease its critics might not be wrong. And considering the ineffectiveness of the company's previous attempts to combat fake news and misinformation, there's every reason to be sceptical.