Facebook launches tool to help users spot false news

  • Facebook launches tool to help users spot false news

Facebook launches tool to help users spot false news

The term "fake news" certainly will have given a lot of people over at Facebook many headaches.

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. "These spammers make money by masquerading as legitimate news publishers, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit their sites, which are often mostly ads".

Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy.

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

"News Feed is a place for authentic communication", Facebook's VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri wrote in the announcement.

The social media site recently rolled out a feature that flags fake news, and now the site also has a set of guidelines that educate you on fake news.

Is the story a joke? "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. Think critically about the stories that you read, and only share articles which you know to be credible.

"Promoting a critical reading of information is a priority", California-based Facebook said.

That's why it's also tried to take matters into its own hands with product changes and other projects, like working with outside fact checkers to label disputed news stories with warnings in the News Feed. Michael Connor, executive director of Open MIC, a nonprofit organization that advises investors and companies on media and technology issues, said Facebook hasn't proven it has had any success disrupting the economic incentives for fake news.

After initially downplaying Facebook's impact, Zuckerberg chose to rethink Facebook's responsibilities.

"We have very much approached this as "tests", said Chan. "All of us - tech companies, media companies, newsrooms, teachers - have a responsibility to do our part in addressing it".

However, he said educational measures were also necessary to help people evaluate fake news that made it into news feeds while also encouraging a more critical approach to less clear cut attempts to misinform that Facebook would not target. And once they are identified, Facebook is trying to dry up the "economic incentives" of false news sites by making it hard for them to buy ads on Facebook.