Friday, June 19, 2020

Faked headlines in Facebook

I have seen Facebook links to dependable sources with what I knew to be false headlines. When I looked at the article, it turned out that the headline that appeared in the Facebook post was different than the real headline.

One that I have seen a several months ago, and again today is a link to an NPR article.
On Facebook, the headline appears as "Judge sentenced to 28 years for selling black teens to prisons".

The link is to an NPR article at

The link in the Facebook post is:
which goes to the NPR article with a different headline than what appears on Facebook

The actual headline is:

Pa. Judge Sentenced To 28 Years In Massive Juvenile Justice Bribery Scandal
August 11, 201111:29 AM ET

At the beginning of the article is the following statement:

Editor's note, March 10, 2019: In recent days, this 2011 story has been circulating on social media with an altered Facebook headline that was not created by NPR. The headline and story published here are accurate as originally published in 2011.

It appears that Facebook has restricted the use of this feature since that misleading post was created.

Josh Constine@joshconstine / 5:44 pm EDT•July 18, 2017

Until now, any Facebook Page that posted a link could change the headline, body text and image that appeared in the News Feed preview. That allowed fake news distributors to bait-and-switch readers into visiting articles they didn’t expect, or make it look like legitimate news publishers were posting inflammatory or false headlines. But it also let real news outlets A/B test link previews, tailor content to different audiences and update previews as news stories evolved.

To combat false news without stifling responsible publications, Facebook is now starting to disable the ability of all Pages to edit the previews of the links they post in the Page composer or API, with an exemption for some original publishers.

A new tab in Page Publishing Tools for Link Ownership will let those exempted specify the web domain they own, and be authorized by Facebook to modify the previews of links to this domain. All Pages that want exemption must have their link ownership approved by September 12, 2017, when the removal of unauthorized preview editing will be fully rolled out.


The change could allow Facebook to dismantle some of the infrastructure that allows the mass distribution of fake news without having to make judgement calls about each piece of content individually. Methods like this and the many recent News Feed algorithm changes Facebook has made allow it to promote the truth without having to police the lies directly. That strategy could prevent it from drawing criticism for favoring one side of the political spectrum over another.

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