Following the example of Twitter, Facebook is testing “Popup Messages.” This is a feature designed to encourage users to read a link before sharing it. The test will reach 6% of Facebook’s Android users globally in a gradual rollout. It aims to promote the “informed exchange” of news on the platform.
The news says that users can still easily click to share a certain story; But the idea is that by adding friction to the experience, people could rethink their original urges to share the kind of inflammatory content that currently dominates on the platform.
Twitter introduced messages last June that urged users to read a link before retweeting it. The company quickly found the trial feature successful, expanding it to more users.
Facebook Popup Experiment
Facebook started testing more posts like this last year. Last June, the company launched pop-up messages. So that? To warn users before they share any content that is older than 90 days. It is an effort to reduce misleading stories taken out of their original context.
At the time, Facebook said it was looking for other pop-ups to reduce some types of misinformation. A few months later, Facebook released similar pop-up messages stating the date and source of the COVID-19 related sharing links.
The strategy demonstrates Facebook’s preference for a passive strategy of steer people away from misinformation. The platform wants to bring them closer to its own verified resources on hot topics like COVID-19 and the 2020 elections.
While the jury is still out on the impact that this kind of mild behavior restraint can have on the disinformation epidemic, both Twitter and Facebook have also explored suggestions that discourage users from posting abusive comments.
Pop-ups that give users the feeling that their misbehavior is being observed could be where more automated moderation is headed on social platforms. While users would likely be much better served by social media companies who remove misinformation and existing abuse-plagued platforms and more carefully rebuild them from scratch, the little nudges of behavior will have to be enough.