Ten easy ways to combat fake news

April 9, 2017 5:30 pm


Fake news became a leading cause of concern during the US election campaign when falsified stories circulated on social media. Concerns have been raised about hoaxes and misinformation affecting elections in Europe this year, with investigations showing how “click farms” generate revenue from online advertising using fabricated news stories.

Google and Facebook aim to change the way news is ranked, diminishing the importance of how often a particular story is shared or clicked on. Both firms have already taken steps to cut off advertising revenues to news sites promoting misinformation.

Facebook

Facebook has rolled out an educational tool in news feeds to help users determine whether shared stories are real or fake.

Facebook on Thursday ramped up its fight against “fake news” by adding tips on how to tell when shared stories are bogus.

An initiative being launched in the US, France and a dozen other countries features an “awareness display” in news feeds. Facebook said in a blog: “By clicking on the awareness display located at the top of their news feed, users will be able to access a dedicated area that includes tips for identifying and reporting false information. Promoting a critical reading of information is a priority. False information goes against our mission of connecting people with what is important to them.”

Tips included checking website addresses along with searching out other sources or articles on topics.

Earlier this month, a global alliance of tech industry and academic organisations unveiled plans to work together to combat the spread of fake news and improve public understanding of journalism. The News Integrity Initiative debuted with $14 million from Facebook, the Ford Foundation, Mozilla and others, and is based at the City University of New York’s journalism school, which will coordinate research, projects and events.

10 ways to spot fake news on Facebook

This week, users in 14 countries, including the U.S., will see an alert above the News Feed that links them to Facebook’s Help Center where they can read “Tips to Spot False News.” Written while working with news standards nonprofit First Draft, these tips include being skeptical of sensational headlines and checking for phony URLs. Here’s the list of tips users will find if they click through the link:

1.Be skeptical of headlines: False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.

2. Look closely at the URL:A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site and compare the URL to established sources.

3. Investigate the source: Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.

4. Watch for unusual formatting: Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.

5. Consider the photos: False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.

6. Inspect the dates: False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.

7. Check the evidence:Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.

8. Look at other reports.If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.

9. Is the story a joke?Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.

10. Some stories are intentionally false.Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

Google

Google is adding a fact-checking tag to search results globally, its latest initiative to help curb the spread of misinformation and ‘fake news’.

The new tags, to be used in all languages for users worldwide, will use third-party fact-checkers to indicate whether news items are true, false or somewhere in-between.

A blog post from Google said: “For the first time, when you conduct a search on Google that returns an authoritative result containing fact checks for one or more public claims, you will see that information clearly on the search results page. The snippet will display information on the claim, who made the claim, and the fact check of that particular claim.”

The information will not be available for every search result, and there may be conflicting conclusions in some cases, Google said in the blog post, from researcher Cong Yu and Justin Kosslyn of Google’s sister company Jigsaw. It said: “These fact checks are not Google’s and are presented so people can make more informed judgments. Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree.”

Google has worked with 115 fact-checking groups worldwide for the initiative, which began last year.

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By Hina Latif
Journalist
Hina Latif has over six years of media and publishing experience under her belt, spanning multiple magazines and a newspaper in the UAE. She studied creative writing at the University of Oxford and has a Master’s degree in Journalism.



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