For regular users of social media, fake news has become a real nuisance. This worldwide phenomenon has swept the internet, disguising itself as the truth in an attempt to manipulate the views of unsuspecting consumers. Well, now one industry giant is fighting back as it attempts to eradicate this form of online cancer.
Facebook has launched a new educational tool as part of its continuing measures to combat the spread of fake news. Situated at the top of users’ news feeds, information will be displayed on how to spot fake news and report it. The campaign, which will be rolled out in 14 countries, is set to last for three days (starting on Friday 7th April) and is “designed to help people become more discerning readers,” according to the US-based company.
How Will the Anti-Fake News Post Work?
The campaign will direct users to the site’s help page, where a list of ten tips on how to spot fake news will be available. These include examining the URL of the source and determining whether or not the article was produced in jest. For UK users, Facebook has been working closely with fact-checking organisation Full Fact in its efforts to educate users. In an interview with WIRED, Full Fact’s director Will Moy said: “One of the solutions to fake news is that people do need to be asking questions of themselves and it is really helpful for Facebook to prompt people to do that.”
Facebook’s vice president of news feed, Adam Mosseri, was keen to emphasise the importance of educating users: “We think these tips will help people become more discerning readers, which is critically important as we’re moving to a world where people need to be more sceptical about what they read to make sure they are not misled or lied to.” But with fake news being credited with playing its part in the election of Donald Trump to the post of US president in 2016, after undecided voters were subjected to false claims about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, are these steps enough to prevent future wrongdoings?
Will it Work?
Some experts have claimed the campaign is simply not enough to make users fully aware of the dangers of fake news. Tom Felle, a lecturer in digital journalism at City University expressed his concerns in an interview with the BBC: “Until Facebook stops rewarding the architects of fake news with huge traffic, this problem will just get worse.” And, although he was onboard with Facebook’s approach, Felle still urged the social media giant to do more to weed out fake news sources.
Whether Facebook’s campaign is successful remains to be seen, but Adam Mosseri is confident the social media site is already on top of the problem, saying there had been a “reduction in the US, and no growth in Europe” since it stepped up its monitoring and reporting of fake news. Naturally, snippets of fake news may still find their way onto your timeline, so our advice would be to double check the facts before sharing any suspect information online.