Adding to Facebook’s “fake news” woes, exaggerated reports caused its Safety Check feature to send out a false alarm on Tuesday.
After a number of stories reported an explosion in Bangkok, Thailand, the social giant sent one of its Safety Checks to users in the region. Safety Checks lets users tell loved ones they are safe during and after major disasters.
Throughout 2016, Facebook came under intense scrutiny for allowing false news reports to spread among its community of nearly 2 billion users.
In response, it recently partnered with top third-party fact-checking organizations to launch a full-frontal attack on the people and organizations behind such content.
Facing mounting criticism for failing to curb phony news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently called for patience and understanding. “We take misinformation seriously,” Zuckerberg asserted in a blog post. “We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done.”
He said Facebook has historically relied on its community of users to point out inaccurate news content, but admitted the task has become increasingly “complex, both technically and philosophically.”
The social network also recently decided to allow its community to decide when it should activate a Safety Check.
“We believe people closest to a disaster should play a bigger role in deciding when Safety Check is most helpful,” Naomi Gleit, VP of social good at Facebook, noted in a blog post.
“When a lot of people post about an incident from the affected area, they may be asked if they’re safe,” she said. “Once marked safe, a person can then invite friends to do the same.”
The company’s engineers were originally inspired to develop Safety Check following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.