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This Is True: Facebook Starts Cracking Down On Hoax News Stories

A Facebook worker at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook announced it will start flagging hoax news stories in users' News Feeds.

Facebook's on a mission to make your News Feed a little more truthful.

The social media giant has announced it will start doing more to alert users when stories they're seeing in their feeds are fake. And it will allow users to start flagging hoaxes themselves. But Facebook says it won't remove false stories. And the company says it won't start "reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy."

Facebook recently added an option that allows users to report false stories in their news feed. Users had already been able to report spam and scam content. Once a story is flagged enough, the company will start adding the following message to stories it thinks might be fake: "Many people on Facebook have reported that this story contains false information." And, Facebook said, a story that's been flagged as a hoax "will get reduced distribution in News Feed."

Facebook isn't alone in cracking down on fake news. As NPR's David Folkenflik previously reported, a company called Storyful works to authenticate social media content for journalists, so that news outlets can know if what they're seeing and reporting online is actually true. Storyful helped flag a fake twerking video made by ABC's Jimmy Kimmel and a hoax video of an eagle snatching a baby in a park.

Facebook acknowledged that not all fake stories will be affected by the change. "We've found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update." So sites like The Onion should be just fine.

Facebook's shift should affect the prominence of spam, like those "win three free iPads by sharing this link" or "by posting this status, I remove Facebook's right to my photos and likeness" posts. The company has cracked down on "spammy" content before. Last April, Facebook announced it would target "like-baiting" (those posts explicitly asking for likes, comments, or shares), repeated content and links to ads.

Which news hoaxes have tricked you recently? Let us know in the comments. (I must admit, for a good two days straight, I actually believed there was a breathalyzer-activated social network created just for drunk people.)

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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