By Kyle Perisic
Facebook is rating its users on a scale between zero and one to predict if they’re “trustworthy” — a system similar to one China is using on its citizens.
The numbers are not meant to be absolute, however, the social media giant will not tell its users their score, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The score aims to be one measurement among thousands of other unknown behavioral clues that tell Facebook how trustworthy users are when they interact with posts.
This credibility score is a response to users gaming Facebook’s system that allowed users to report whether something is credible or problematic. As Facebook rolled out these tools, users began abusing them.
“For example, if someone previously gave us feedback that an article was false and the article was confirmed false by a fact-checker, then we might weight that person’s future false news feedback more than someone who indiscriminately provides false news feedback on lots of articles, including ones that end up being rated as true,” Facebook’s Tessa Lyons, who is in charge of fighting misinformation on the platform, told The Washington Post.
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post on Jan. 19 that the platform would implement the new rating system for the credibility of news articles, which users on Facebook rate themselves.
“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook.
Lyons said this system was abused, adding that it’s “not uncommon for people to tell us something is false simply because they disagree with the premise of a story or they’re intentionally trying to target a particular publisher.”
China, run by the Communist Party, is set to implement a similar rating system for its citizens in 2020 — giving them a “social credit score” to identify who is trustworthy based off social media posts and purchase history, The Daily Caller reported in 2017.
The effects of the Chinese rating system have already been felt. One Chinese citizen and journalist, Liu Hu, was unable to book a flight because he was on the list of untrustworthy citizens, CBS New York reported in April.
A Chinese court order Hu to apologize for a series of tweets, but the government determined the apology was insincere.
“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” Hu said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”
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