In talking about the rash of fake news sites out there it’s important to know that you have the power to limit your exposure to these and any other undesirable sites when you are on Facebook. All you have to do is use the blocking and/or reporting features embedded in every Facebook post. In the top right corner of every Facebook post is a small drop down arrow. Click it and a menu will pop up:
From here you can do a few things. The options vary depending on how the link came to be in your time line. In this particular case, a friend had simply reacted to one of their friend’s posts and it appeared in my feed. So here I can:
- Hide the post
- Unfollow [friend]
- Hide all from
- Report post
You can simply Hide post and it will disappear from your timeline but that won’t always help to keep similar posts from showing up in your feed.
I don’t recommend Unfollowing your friends unless they are super annoying. Even then, check in from time to time to see if you can tolerate them again.
Often the Hide all from feature points to the actual source, but since in this case it was a friend of a friend scenario, it referred to that person’s name. But in most cases, the actual site is listed here so if you don’t want to see anything from a particular site, click this one and it is essentially a Block for the sites or their Pages.
And you don’t have to go crazy with this. It is important to expose yourself to alternative points of view. But the terrible sites don’t deserve to be rewarded with clicks, either from you or anyone else.
Now if you really want to help Facebook get rid of useless pages and groups, what you want to do is click on Report post. When you do that another menu pops up so you can give Facebook more information:
If you just think it is annoying or not interesting, say so. This helps the robots to know what you don’t like so you see less of it. If you think it’s spam, say so. It will help the robots to weed out spammy posts. But my favorite is to click It shouldn’t be on Facebook because then you get another menu where you can be even more specific.
This does a long way to help Facebook understand its users and to apply more scrutiny to sites that are of no value in order to minimize their exposure. This will enable users to specifically identify things like fake news stories.
Use of these features is not without problems. The Verge reported in 2014 that abuse of the Reporting feature was helping to silence voices of political dissent in Vietnam. And there is no doubt rampant abuse of this feature by people looking to hinder the spread of anything they don’t agree with. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s something.
I urge everyone to make this a habit-when you are perusing your feed on Facebook and you see garbage, don’t just scroll on by. Take a few seconds to let Facebook know what you think. You will have a better experience because of it.
NOTE: Incidentally, if you look at the first screen cap above, there are two other handy features you may not be aware of.
Save link puts them a “folder” you can later access. I use this for recipes or articles I don’t have time to read.
Turn on notifications for this post is what you should do instead of cluttering up the comments of posts with all your silly “Following”s. You will receive notifications when there are new comments on the post.