One of the rising problems for Facebook these days is fake news. The social media giant has taken several steps to tackle false stories and stop them from spreading on its platform, but so far, the results have been less than satisfactory. Now, taking its fight further, the company is releasing an educational tool to assist users in identifying fake stories and misleading information on its platform.
Tips to spot fake news
This tool or resource is basically a notification that pops up on the top of the user’s news feed for a few days. The tool is similar to Facebook’s previous efforts around security and privacy. With this resource, the social networking site aims to explain to users the difference between real news and false news.
The pop-up, when clicked by a user, redirects them to tips and information on how to spot fake news and how to report it. The tips include looking at website URLs to check if they are posting real stories, investigating the source behind the story and checking the websites’ “About” sections for more information. There are sites that look like real new sites at first, but when you check their “About” section, you find out that they are in fact fake. The resource also wants users to be alert when they see any sensational headlines, as often, false news stories “have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points.”
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Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of News Feed, said, “We think these tips will help people become more discerning readers.”
This is quite important as people are moving in a world where they need to be more skeptical about what “they read to make sure they are not misled or lied to,” the executive said. Mosseri added that most of the fake content is from spammers who are trying to seek a profit. This is apparent, as some sites often have multiple pages for supporting different political candidates.
More efforts needed from Facebook
Tom Felle, a lecturer in digital journalism at City University, welcomed the recent move by Facebook but wants the company to go further to stop fake news from spreading.
“One of the biggest problems with fake news is that the algorithms that run social media sites like Facebook and search engines such as Google are being gamed by black ops companies,” Felle told BBC.
Facebook’s new measure is a part of a broader plan to end false news stories. The issue, which has been around for years, gained attention only in the months leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. To identify fake news, the tech company is already working with outside fact-checking and media organizations. As soon as fake news sites are found, the company eliminates their economic incentives by making it difficult for them to buy ads on the platform, notes Billboard.
Facebook’s new feature will come to 14 countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Taiwan, Italy, the Philippines, Canada, Indonesia, Colombia, Myanmar (Burma), Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and the United States.