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  • Writer's pictureRoundabout team

Facebook is rating users based on 'trustworthiness'

Facebook has started evaluating the trustworthiness of its users by assigning them with reputation scores from zero to one when they report news articles as being false.

• Why? The idea is to root out people who routinely make false claims about news articles. This is a new weapon Facebook is using in the online information wars to thwart Facebook users who band together to flag a piece of content or a news publisher they disagree with to reduce the visibility of that content or publisher, Facebook says. It's part of a broader effort by the social media giant to go after malicious actors. "The Washington Post" first reported on the trust scores.

• How do the trust scores work? Facebook sends news articles reported as false to third-party fact checkers to verify. Over the past year, it began using this trustworthiness rating to help judge the reliability of the person flagging the disputed news articles. If someone routinely falsely flags news articles later found to be accurate, it reduces their credibility the next time they dispute an article. If a Facebook user routinely accurately flags false news, that person's score improves. Other signals are used to evaluate users when they flag articles as false, but Facebook won't say what they are because it does not want people to game the system.

• What is your Facebook trustworthiness score? It's a mystery. You can't see your score or anyone else's. But it's important to remember: this is a score for misinformation, not for anything else on Facebook. And this is just one in a number of indicators that Facebook relies on.

• What's Facebook saying? "We developed a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system," the company said in a statement. "The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible.”

Earlier this year, Facebook said it would introduce trust ratings for media outlets, which would help determine which news articles get higher ranking in people's News Feeds. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to crack down on the spread of false news, which is a growing problem for Facebook.

• What do you think? Facebook judging our credibility feels uncomfortable to some, who are airing concerns that the trustworthiness score will unfairly target specific groups such as conservatives. Others drew parallels to China's invasive and creepy "social credit" system, which analyzes online habits and assigns citizens a score.

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