Getting Informed through Facebook: A Risk

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Through its massive proportions, Facebook has become an important outlet for news and media. Lots of people get their daily updates of what happens around the world from what is being liked and shared on Facebook. However, this phenomenon has given rise to so-called “fake news”. The terminology leaves nothing to the imagination. These posts entail completely made-up stories, often tailoring to populistic topics in order to generate the most amount of views.  The problem became especially prevalent during the recent elections in the United States; an array of misinformation proliferated across social media, giving skewed, or down-right wrong, impressions of events and statements. Facebook has acknowledged the problem, and is working on a solution.

 

Users have noticed a new feature to appear on their Facebook webpage. Under a shared article, a Likert scale is provided (The Guardian, 2016). This scale asks the user whether or not the article withholds any important information of the article, rated from “Not at all” to “Completely”. With this feature, articles can be given a rating of validity. Users can then base their trust of the truthfulness of the article on that rating.

 

Independent initiatives to battle fake news are also going online. BS Detector is a plugin for web-browsers that checks the source of an article against a database of known fake news sources. If an article is recognized as originating from a blacklisted site, the plugin will insert a red banner over the article with a warning of the potential of misinformation.

 

Despite actions currently undertaken, fake news will still be found in abundance on social media. We must all still rely on our own judgement of the reliability and validity of a news article being shared on Facebook. Technology has allowed us all to reach each other. It is up to us to be our own BS detector, and not believe anything shared on Facebook without second thought.

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/06/facebook-tool-fake-news-rank-misleading-language-data-collecting

Featured Image:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/37992793/i-write-fake-news-that-gets-shared-on-facebook

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