What is your reputation score? Are you a zero or a one?
For a year, Facebook has been developing a system to rate the trustworthiness of users. People are apparently given a trustworthy score on a scale from zero to one. I'm no math genius, but that seems like a pretty small scale. It looks like the choice is basically trustworthy or liar.
Why is Facebook doing this? I thought we weren't supposed to judge people. Also, how can people be assigned a binary trustworthy-rating in a postmodern world of gender fluidity and "front holes"?
Supposedly, Facebook is just trying to measure user credibility to help identify malicious characters. The effort is driven by the whole election-Russia-fake news fiasco.
But it's a never-ending battle because no matter what Facebook comes up with, people game the system. In 2015, for example, Facebook gave users the ability to report a post as "false." At first, any post marked false was forwarded to third-party fact-checkers. But then a lot of users started reporting true content as untrue, simply because they disagreed with the person, or company, posting the content. It's now common for Facebook users – on the Left and the Right – to target publishers by flagging stories as false.
The third-party fact-checkers were inundated. So, Facebook built a system to try to determine if a post is likely to be false. You know, to save the fact-checkers' some time. But then, Facebook went a step further and developed a way to assess whether users who were flagging posts as false were trustworthy themselves.
Facebook is now monitoring users that flag a lot of published content as false. They're also looking at the data to discover which publishers users consider to be trustworthy.
Why so secretive?
The Washington Post first reported this story yesterday, but Facebook wouldn't reveal what else it tracks to determine a person's reputation score. They also wouldn't say whether every Facebook user has a score, nor how the scores are used.
Why so secretive? Facebook is afraid that if it's too transparent about this, it will enable hostile users to further game the system.
Imagine – somewhere deep in the vault at Facebook, your profile may have that iconic "like" symbol next to it. Or it may have a thumbs down.