How Well Can People Rate News "Credibility"?

Facebook has a solution to its fake-news problem: allow users to assess stories' credibility and trustworthiness. Stories rated more highly will get higher ranks in newsfeeds.

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In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg explained the plan:

Here's how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they're familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don't follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren't familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)

Critics call the move "time-wasting stupidity":

So people get to rate the credibility of news. Based on what?

The answer is easy. People will believe any story that presents a view they want to hear.

Is there a point to this?

Sure, Facebook wants people to waste still more time on Facebook debating what is or isn't fake new [sic].

Rating news stores based on credibility is time-wasting silliness.

That's precisely why Facebook introduced the feature. Don't fall for it.


  • Business communicators may have some questions as well. What principles of research and source credibility are in question here? What do we know about how people interact on social media that may jeopardize Facebook's plan?
  • On the other hand, what is positive about the plan?
  • On balance, are you more optimistic or pessimistic about Facebook's ability to reduce fake news?
  • Assess Zuckerberg's writing skills in the full post. How well does he organize the message and communicate his ideas?
  • Is this a good or a weak example of Facebook's accountability?