The New “Context Button” Could Help Solve Many of Facebook’s Headaches

Since its launch, Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative has received some complaints from publishers, and Facebook has also found itself at the center of the Fake News controversy that continues to rage on. But could its “Context Button” be a master stroke, and play a key role in resolving these issues?

What is The Context Button?
Spearheaded by the Facebook Journalism Project, the “Context Button” is a small i that appears on articles shared on Facebook that, when clicked, will give users additional context around the piece.

This short video from Facebook shows the button in action:

How the button fights fake news
The button wants to fight against fake news and echo chambers by giving readers:

  • Additional information about the publications producing articles,
  • Presenting articles with opposing viewpoints, and
  • Showing how articles are shared around the world.

In taking these steps, Facebook hopes to inspire critical thought and scepticism to fight against fake news. But will it work? This button should shine a light on just how deeply the Fake News issue runs—can bias and echo chambers survive in the face of the above features?

How it also helps publishers
Since its launch in the spring of 2015, Instant Articles has faced some difficulties with publishers. But despite the fact that Facebook are presenting the “context button” as a feature to primarily fight against fake news, this feature could have benefits for publishers too. Instant Articles publishers will be rewarded for producing high-quality content, their publications will be more prominent, and the video shows that subscription buttons appear prevalently within the cards.

It remains to be seen how the initiative performs, but at first click it seems to be a step in the right direction on two fronts.

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