Facebook will warn users against sharing old news articles

Facebook Timliness news warning
Facebook Timliness news warning (Image credit: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Facebook is now rolling out a notification screen warning users if a news post they're about to share is outdated.
  • The notification will kicks in 90 days from a post's publication.
  • The social media firm is also testing a similar notification for COVID-19 related links.

Facebook will start warning users who share old news posts that the articles are outdated, the company announced this week. Timeliness is vital to the credibility of a story, especially when resharing an older story in politically fraught times may serve to give shape social conversations with information that may have been superseded.

Facebook's new notification screen will kick in 90 days from publication, giving users the option to find a better source. It's still possible to post anyway if said user judges the news post to still be pertinent and relevant. It may also roll out a similar warning screen for posts about COVID-19, directing users to Facebook's information hub.

Facebook's John Hegeman, VP Feed and Stories said:

News publishers in particular have expressed concerns about older stories being shared on social media as current news, which can misconstrue the state of current events. Some news publishers have already taken steps to address this on their own websites by prominently labeling older articles to prevent outdated news from being used in misleading ways.

The Guardian is one such mainstream publisher who already labels its older news stories, directing viewers to newer ones.

The call for thoughtful sharing on social media is one that's recently become popular. Instagram will ask users to rethink hurtful comments before posting, Twitter asks users to read pieces before retweeting them, and WhatsApp has instituted limits on forwards to counter easy hoax propagation.

No matter the platform or stated reason, the message is the same: think before you speak.

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Michael Allison