A few days ago, during a period of severe flooding across many parts of England and Wales, caused by storms Ciara and Dennis, one of my friends shared this Financial Times story, UK makes last minute bid for EU flood funds, on Facebook:
Obviously, it was a timely item, and relevant to many of those affected. and clearly related to recent Brexit developments.
Or was it?
A mutual friend soon responded:
As you can see, they pointed out that the story was actually four years old.
Facebook could prevent well-intentioned posts of such stale news from misleading people, and subtly discourage people from repeating them, by including the original publication date in their preview, something like this:
There are a number of ways they could obtain the publication date, such as from the shared page’s meta headers, and if no date is available they could even warn “no date specified, please check source”.
Of course, this won’t stop bad actors from publishing stories on web pages with deliberately misleading metadata, nor the inept from accidentally doing so, but Facebook are reportedly downgrading unreliable sources anyway, so that’s just another factor to add to their criteria.
And it’s not just Facebook, but Twitter and other social media services, that could do this.