Facebook adding 'educational tool' to help users spot fake news

Apr 07, 2017, 01:59
Facebook adding 'educational tool' to help users spot fake news

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users will be offered tips for spotting fake news as part of the social network's latest attempt to address concerns about its role in the spread of false information.

From Thursday, a new prompt will appear at the top of users' news feeds called "How to spot false news", offering advice on how to recognise fake news articles and prevent them from spreading.

While the company has rolled out on site features allowing the identification of disputed articles, (underlining how scrupulous it is as a source), it is now looking to enrich readers with tips on how to spot falsehoods.

But Facebook's news feed boss Adam Mosseri described it as "somewhat concerning".

The new tool, developed in conjunction with online information nonprofit First Draft, will roll out in users' News Feeds in 14 countries over the next few days.

But don't expect to see direct warnings attached to potentially dubious Canadian news stories any time soon, like some European and American subscribers get.

Facebook's latest announcement comes after founder Mark Zuckerberg defended his site following the USA election in November when it was claimed by some that the presence of fake news stories surrounding Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could have influenced some voters.

When it comes to fighting false news, one of the most effective approaches is removing the economic incentives for traffickers of misinformation. "It's like they have become citizens".

Facebook says it has worked in consultation with news literacy and fact-checking organisations, including Full Fact in the United Kingdom, to create the new guidance.

Mosseri said the majority of fake news on Facebook was created for financial rather than political gain and its impact could be reduced by limiting how often people see it and cutting off the supply of ad revenue.

"We found that (young people) were quite likely to try and figure out whether something was legitimate or not when they were doing school work", said Matthew Johnson, the director of education at MediaSmarts, a not-for-profit with a self-prescribed mandate of educating young people about digital media.

After initially downplaying Facebook's impact, Zuckerberg made a decision to rethink Facebook's responsibilities. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL.

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