Facebook launches resource to help spot misleading news

Facebook says that it's open to paying fact-checkers if that's what it takes to fight fake news.

From Friday (7 April) users in 14 countries will be presented with a large post at the top of their feeds with messages such as "it is possible to spot false news" and linking to 10 tips for identifying misinformation including checking web addresses and being sceptical about headlines which make shocking claims. "Yes we have a responsibility to reduce the amount of time people come across false news ... but also help them to make more informed decisions".

False news, of course, was around long before the election. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.

The project is the result of a collaboration with media literacy agency MediaSmarts to help Canadians filter their news feeds for fake content, a phenomenon that became a growing concern during and after the 2016 USA presidential election campaign. "Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes", he said.

Among the ten "tips", users are asked to consider whether the story might be a joke.

Take a look at the source and the URL, as sometimes you can spot fake news on Facebook with sources that are unfamiliar to you because they exist simply to manipulate your view on something. "Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story's details and tone suggest it may just be for fun", the social network advises.

The tool will offer tips on how to investigate the source of online reports and verify them against other news sources.

According to studies, more than half of USA adults get their news from social media rather than directly from trusted sources, the majority of students can't reliably distinguish fake news from real news and 20 percent of users on social media say that they've changed a social or political stance because of social media. We've found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated.

Facebook said it had worked with news literacy and fact-checking organisations, including Full Fact in the United Kingdom, to create the new guidance. "There's a next step that we would like to see Facebook ask itself: 'Can it help users answer some of these questions more easily?'" "We will continue working on this and we know we have more work to do". Fake news is plaguing the internet and the worst part is that most people can't recognize it when they see it.

  • Tracy Ferguson