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Facebook to warn users before sharing outdated news

Facebook has announced that it will show notification screens to users who are about to share content that is more than 90 days old and therefore can 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Hegeman acknowledged that news taken out of context – including the recirculation of outdated news – plays a role in spreading misinformation, and that users and publishers alike want information shared on Facebook to be current and credible.

“In recent months, our internal research has shown 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 concern that older stories are shared on social media as current news, which could misinterpret the state of affairs.”

Many news outlets have taken steps to address this issue on their websites by prominently labeling older articles, he said. In contrast, Facebook users cannot see the age of a news article on their news feed without clicking on it; it only shows the time that a user has shared the article.

This can lead to people unknowingly sharing information that is no longer correct. Facebook will take action against this by introducing a notification screen that appears when users click “share” under content that is more than 90 days old.

The notification only serves as a boost and does not prevent the sharing of obsolete articles; it gives users the choice between going back or continuing knowing the story is outdated.

Facebook will start rolling out the notifications from today. Hegeman said Facebook is now considering introducing notification screens to reduce other forms of misinformation, including Covid-19 notification screens that direct users to reliable sources of information about the pandemic through the Facebook Covid-19 Information Center.

Facebook and other social media platforms are increasingly using notification screens to encourage users to reconsider before posting content that could be misleading or otherwise harmful.

Last year, Facebook owned Instagram started showing popup messages before users posted offensive comments, and Twitter recently started urging users to read articles before sharing links to them.

Facebook said experiments with the Instagram notification screen showed promise for encouraging civic behavior on the platform.