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Facebook will ask researchers to measure the effects of misinformation in the News Feed

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Part of a new public relations campaign about the fight against fake news

illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook is asking academics to help measure the volume and effects of misinformation on the platform, the company said today. The move, which comes a month after the company said it would ask researchers to help it understand the effect of Facebook on elections, illustrates how the company is working to restore trust after revelations that Russian agents spread misinformation during the 2016 US presidential election.

The same commission established last month to analyze Facebook and elections will initiate a request for proposals to measure misinformation on the platform. The request will be issued through a website that will launch within the next two weeks, a spokesman said.

A peer review process will determine which researchers obtain funding for their projects. They will be granted special access to user data from Facebook, though users’ privacy will be maintained, the company said.

In addition to the request for proposals, Facebook said Wednesday that it had launched a news literacy campaign that will include both information posted at the top of the News Feed and a print advertising campaign that would reach 170 million people in the United States. The campaign, which will unfold over the next few months, will offer tips for spotting misinformation and promote the steps Facebook is taking to reduce the spread of false news.

Facebook’s promotional campaign also includes a 12-minute film in which employees are interviewed about how they approach the fight against misinformation, balancing the need to reduce clickbait with their desire to keep Facebook a “platform for all ideas.” The company also launched a new section of its website called Inside Feed that will explain how the News Feed works and changes to its algorithms as they are announced.