Facebook started rolling out its Related Articles feature to a wider audience, the social media giant confirmed on Thursday, with the wording of its statement indicating that the functionality still won't be available globally for the time being. Initially announced in late April, Related Articles were presented as Facebook's latest attempt to combat fake news and misleading information without outright censoring it. The solution identifies inaccurate and otherwise deceptive content and pairs it with a broader range of stories on related or identical topics that have been fact-checked and verified as originating from legitimate sources. The Menlo Park, California-based company previously stated that Related Articles aren't meant to discourage people from sharing news stories that they agree with but simply aim to provide them with new perspectives and help them understand if they have been misled by any news publication or another source of information that turns out to be false.
Simultaneously with the broader release of the new service that should target stories shared through both desktop and mobile Facebook clients, the company is updating its machine learning algorithms in an effort to identify potentially false news stories more efficiently. Once Facebook's algorithms detect questionable content, they relay it to a number of independent fact-checking organizations to have them verified or disproved, and in the latter case, they flag such content as being eligible for having Related Articles appear next to it. The ultimate goal is to combat fake news by informing users about such stories in cases when they themselves have been misled, consequently teaching them to keep their horizons open and strive to obtain their news from a diverse range of sources, Facebook previously said.
The company has yet to provide an update on the effectiveness of its solution, though Related Articles are presumably at least performing up to the company's minimal expectations, as evidenced by the fact that the project is still being pursued after more than three months of extensive testing. The social media giant said that the service will still be tweaked and updated in the future in an effort to tackle fake news even more efficiently. Apart from misleading media outlets, Facebook also just announced its intentions to start sanctioning slow websites.