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Facebook validates armchair experts with a shiny badge

todayJuly 14, 2021 6

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We’ve all been ‘that person’ online at some point. You know, the one who chimes in with an essay-long comment on something we’re passionate about works — or correcting someone’s egregious mistakes (or maybe that’s just me). The problem is, no matter how knowledgeable you might think you are, there’s little to differentiate your opinion from those of anyone else’s online.

Fret no more, for you can now officially be dubbed an ‘expert’ on Facebook Groups. Starting today, Facebook is launching a way for Group admins to assign certain individuals an expert badge. Once they accept the invitation, the badge will show up next to the expert’s name in a group, adding gravitas to their comments, and helping them stand out from the plebes.

In all seriousness, I can see this being very useful in some niche communities or science-oriented groups. I’ve often seen armchair experts go up against people with actual credentials in a field; in theory it’s nice that recognized experts will be able to stand out.

On the other hand, I’m a little wary, considering there’s seemingly nothing stopping someone from being labeled an expert other than the Group admin’s whims. As nice as it is to highlight real experts, it’s dangerous to give additional power to those who might try to spread disinformation — or who suffer from an egregious case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Being an ‘expert’ doesn’t give you any kind of admin privileges, but Facebook says it’s making it “easier for experts to engage with their followers, we’re introducing automatic invites, which allows them to invite their recently engaged Page followers to join groups they’ve created.” Facebook also plans to introduce Clubhouse-like Live Audio Rooms and Q&A’s to further highlight expertise in Groups.

Let’s hope most of these experts are worthy of their shiny new badge.

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