Google And Facebook Step Up Efforts To Tackle Fake News

The problem of fake news has been put in the spotlight

Google and Facebook have stepped up their efforts to tackle fake news. Google has rolled out its fact checking program to all languages and to its main search results page. Previously, it had only been available for Google News results in the US and the UK. Google’s fact checking program works by adding a “fact check” label next to links. This label says what the article is claiming, the name of the organisation making the claim, and whether independent fact checking services have rated the article as true or false. Google commented on the roll out, saying: “As we make fact checks more visible in Search results, we believe people will have an easier time reviewing and assessing these fact checks, and making their own informed opinions.” Meanwhile, Facebook has launched an educational tool in an effort to teach people how to spot fake news articles for themselves. Over 3 days, Facebook users from 14 countries will see an advert at the top of their news feeds, which when clicked takes them to a page containing advice on how to identify fake news. Some of the tips include being suspicious of sensationalist headlines, checking the URL to see if it is a misspelling of a genuine news site, watching out for unusual formatting or manipulated photos, and checking to see if dates and timelines make sense. A spokesperson from Facebook said: “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.” Some have criticised Facebook’s approach, however, casting doubt on whether directing users to read the article for only 3 days in 14 countries will have any meaningful impact. It has also been pointed out that Facebook is placing the responsibility for fact checking on its users, rather than developing a method of its own to stop fake news from being shared on the social network in the first place. Fake news has become a contentious issue in recent times, after it was suggested that fake news articles may have influenced the results of the US presidential election. 

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