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Facebook is reportedly testing a ‘virality circuit breaker’ to stop misinformation

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A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye, in Zenica, March 13, 2015. Facebook Inc recorded a slight increase in government requests for account data in the second half of 2014, according to its Global Government Requests Report, which includes information about content removal.Requests for account data increased to 35,051 in the second half of 2014 from 34,946 in the first half, with requests from countries such as India rising and those from others including United States and Germany falling, the report by the world's largest Internet social network showed. Facebook said it restricted 9,707 pieces of content for violating local laws, 11 percent more than in the first half, with access restricted to 5,832 pieces in India and 3,624 in Turkey. Picture taken on March 13. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Tags: SOCIETY PORTRAIT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Facebook is reportedly piloting a new way to check viral posts for misinformation before they spread too far, The Interface reports. The method is a kind of “virality circuit breaker” that slows the spread of content before moderators have a chance to review it for misinformation.

In a recent report, the Center for American Progress (CAP) recommended virality circuit breakers, which automatically stop algorithms from amplifying posts when views and shares are skyrocketing. Theoretically, that gives content moderators time to review the posts. According to The Interface, Facebook says it’s piloting an approach that resembles a virality circuit breaker, and it plans to roll it out soon.

Facebook does share info about viral news articles with its fact-checking partners, but CAP suggests that Facebook’s own team take a look at especially viral content. That makes a lot of sense, and you might wonder why Facebook hasn’t had a virality circuit breaker all along.

The pandemic and misinformation around COVID-19 have highlighted Facebook’s struggle against bogus content. The platform has already removed seven million posts for coronavirus misinformation, including a post from President Trump’s account. Facebook labeled another 98 million posts as false, but not worthy of outright removal.

Facebook has tried to fight against COVID-19 “myths” with a “Facts About COVID-19” info center, but curbing its algorithms could be a more effective approach. Last year alone, health misinformation networks generated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook, and a new report by Avaaz found that Facebook’s algorithms were largely to blame.

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