Facebook launches resource to help spot misleading news

Ken Copeland
April 7, 2017

The tool is set to sit at the top of Facebook user News Feeds.

While Facebook has experimented with a system of warnings that alerts users to questionable stories, as well as seeking to cut off advertising to sites that trade in fake news, Facebook's Adam Mosseri said it wanted to "help people make informed decisions".

The term "fake news" emerged shortly after November 8 in the United States, after it was widely reported that false and misleading stories posted to Facebook might have influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

Tips to spot false news include looking closely at website addresses to see if they are trying to spoof real news sites, and checking websites' "about" sections for more information.

In a blog post, Adam Mosseri, the company's vice-president of news feed, said: "We can not become arbiters of truth ourselves - it's not feasible given our scale and it's not our role".

"News Feed is a place for authentic communication", said Facebook in a blog post. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL.

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In the U.S., Facebook uses Snopes and PolitiFact, fact-checking organizations that are part of the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network, to help viewers sift through news stories.

It also recommends being "sceptical of headlines", as false news stories "often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points".

Facebook has been "working very hard to figure out how to get their arms wrapped around this", said Lucy Dalglish, journalism dean at the University of Maryland. "It's like they have become citizens".

In January, Facebook also launched what it called its Journalism Project, which proposed better collaboration with media organizations on the creation of new storytelling products, training and tools for journalists, and to promote news literacy and curb the spread of what it calls "news hoaxes".

The Menlo Park, California-based company worked with First Draft, a nonprofit journalistic coalition, to come up with its tips. It's also provided a special option for flagging false news stories, down-ranked suspicious stories, began detecting and blocking false news spammers, denied false news publishers the ability to buy Facebook ads and funded the $14 million News Integrity Initiative. This is apparent as the sites often flip-flop around opposing political candidates or ideologies, for example, or have multiple pages that support different candidates.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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