Facebook has taken some considerable steps to prevent fake news from spreading on its platform, even reportedly building a tool to track fake news about itself and its products.
According to a new Bloomberg report, the program is called Stormchaser and it’s used to catch and debunk misinformation about Facebook.
Developed in 2016, Stormtracker has been used to follow viral posts about the company. It’s tracked everything from rumours that Facebook listens to users, to a prank that told users if they didn’t copy and paste a status Facebook would share their private information, jokes about Mark Zuckerberg looking like an alien, and more. In at least a few cases, Facebook used Stormchaser to share messages debunking false claims about the company.
The company also used the tools to track trends like the #deleteFBmovement and depending on the hoax in question, Facebook would sometimes take steps to debunk information by serving notices to customers who had shared or engaged with the posts.
Some say Stormtracker is proof that Facebook prioritizes fighting fake news that puts the company in a bad light over other misinformation, but the company says that’s not the case.
“We didn’t use this internal tool to fight false news because that wasn’t what it was built for, and it wouldn’t have worked,” a Facebook spokesperson told Bloomberg. “The tool was built with simple technology that helped us detect posts about Facebook based on keywords, so we could consider whether to respond to product confusion on our own platform. Comparing the two is a false equivalence.”