Facebook has had a bit of a bumpy ride this past year, what with all the hoo-ha over users' privacy (or the lack thereof it, to be more accurate). And now, according to the Washington Post, it's been revealed that the social network has been rating its users secretly. Ooookaaaay.
Before you start getting paranoid this is like high school all over again and you're about to be harshly judged on your teenage looks, that's (thankfully) not what Facebook's rating system is about. It is still quite personal, however.
The rating system
"Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1," wrote the Washington Post.
Developed over the past year, the ratings system is apparently in place to measure the credibility of users, in order to help identify illegitimate profiles in a bid to combat fake news.
Tessa Lyons, the product manager who heads up Facebook's battle against fake news, said in an interview: "One of the signals we use is how people interact with articles.
"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."
Essentially, if someone consistently appears to post fake news to their feed, they'll be given a low credibility score. Conversely, if a person repeatedly flags proven-to-be-true articles as fake, they will also be deemed less trustworthy.
The other specific criteria Facebook uses in order to rate its users' credibility remain undisclosed, as does the exact impact of having a low rating. It has, however, been confirmed that news media pages on the social network are being rated for credibility just the same as the individual users.
How to find out your score
But the bit we all want to know is obviously: how do you find out your own score? Does Facebook view you as a reliable person and not a "malicious actor"? Sadly, it doesn't seem like it's possible to find out.
With the rating system having only emerged into public awareness this week, via the Washington Post's article, it's pretty new information. And with the rating system making up part of Facebook's enigmatic algorithm, it's likely it'll never be accessible to your average joe public.
In a statement to The Sun, however, a Facebook spokesperson insisted that claims the rating is to do with a person's reputation is "just plain wrong" and "misleading".
"What we're actually doing: We developed a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system," the spokesperson continued.
"The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible."
Fine. (As long as they rate me highly).
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.