Fake news has been all over the media recently. From fake news stories about Donald Trump and his family to people putting out fake posts after the recent and tragic events in Manchester, it seems to be increasingly difficult to know what to trust.
The most popular channel to publish this fake news seems to be on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter where the news can soon become viral. Many times we have seen reports of celebrities that have passed away when they haven’t or incidents occurring that aren’t actually real. But how do we know what to trust? There is so much content shared that we tend to trust it. If not the content itself then we trust our friends and family that shared it and assume it must be true. That’s not to say that everyone believes it. There are some that will type the headline into Google first to see if they can find a more reliable source. Others will take it as red and share it until the content becomes widely shared.
How do we eliminate fake news?
How do we counter this problem though? What can be done to filter out the fake news and make sure that what is appearing in our newsfeeds is trusted and true content? Whilst there will always be those embellished headlines about a celebrity that over-exaggerate the truth of a story, there must be ways to get rid of the nasty, troll like stories that are published for punishment or gain?
Wikipedia founder to launch a counter-measure
Fake news is becoming such a problem now as people publish stories for political and financial gain, that Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales is launching a new website – Wikitribune. The website will see paid journalists working with volunteers to create genuine news from trusted and reliable sources. He wants to cover stories across the UK and US which relate to general news. Each news piece will be researched and based on facts. The first journalists are expected to be in place before the 8th June general election – it will be interesting to see how this form of journalism will report the unbiased news especially when their subject matter will include political items.
Google and Facebook
In a bid to eliminate fake news Google is offering merits to writers who write genuine articles. Each time they write a genuine piece of content they are awarded a merit. Once they have written several genuine articles they can be seen as a reliable source of information. They are also trying to combat people falling for fake news with Chrome issuing a pop up warning when someone arrives on a site that is deemed to contain fake news content. Facebook has deleted hundreds of fake accounts and taken measures to educate people about fake news by putting ads in lots of UK newspapers explaining what to look out for.
Often the source of the article is a good indicator of whether or not it is true. If you can see that the article is published by the BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph, CNN, Fox News or other respectable sources then you generally assume that the content is genuine. It’s when the source is something that you have never heard of before. If in doubt check the source. Some are just click bait used to take you to a website that is advertising something, others are just malicious. If you suspect that this may be the case just Google the headline and see if anyone reliable is reporting on the matter.
The fight against fake news appears to be on and with the right education and support perhaps we will see a radical reduction in the amount being shared.