Facebook’s major effort to stop the spread of false articles on its platform did not result in less engagement for the most viral hoaxes in 2017, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. In fact, the analysis found that the 50 most viral fake news stories of 2017 generated more total shares, reactions, and comments than the top 50 hoaxes of 2016.
This highlights the challenge faced by Facebook to find ways to halt or arrest the spread of completely false stories on its platform, and raises questions about how much progress has been made in fighting this type of misinformation. After a year of working with fact-checkers such as PolitiFact and Snopes, and stating that related product efforts can reduce spread of a false news story by 80% once it’s been debunked, Facebook remains the home of massively viral hoaxes.
In response to the BuzzFeed News analysis, a Facebook spokesperson said the company’s initiatives continue to improve, and that the spread of pure fake news has been reduced on its platform.