Facebook gives 10 tips to spot fake news in latest print campaign

By Anirban Roy Choudhury , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 28, 2017
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A look at the effort.

Facebook today is way beyond an online socialising platform; it has become one of the largest distribution mediums through which digital content spreads thick and fast. One such form of content, which probably travels faster than any other on Facebook today, is fake news - news which is completely false and created with the intent to mislead readers.

Since September 21, 2017, Facebook has started carrying out full page ads in both regional and English dailies. The ads contain tips for spotting false news, "It's possible to spot false news. As we work to limit the spread, check out a few ways to identify whether a story is genuine," says the ad.

Apart from newspaper ads, Facebook has also run the campaign on the social media platform itself via the News Feed, with the same guidelines. "We know people want to see accurate information on Facebook - and so do we. False news and hoaxes are harmful to our community and make the world less informed. All of us have a responsibility to curb the spread of false news," wrote Adam Mosseri, VP, product management at Facebook, in the blog uploaded on the platform's official newsroom.

Adam Mosseri Adam Mosseri

He added, "As part of our on-going efforts, we've worked in consultation with First Draft, a non-profit dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information online, to roll out an educational tool to help people spot false news. We're featuring this tool at the top of the News Feed for a few days to people on Facebook in 14 countries."

"False news runs counter to our mission to connect people with the stories they find meaningful. We will continue and we know we have more work to do," this assurance was Mosseri's parting note.

What are the tips?

Be sceptical of headlines: False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.

Look closely at the URL: A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.

Investigate the source: Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their "About" section to learn more. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have spelling errors or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.

Consider the photos: False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.

Inspect the dates: False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense or event dates that have been altered.

Check the evidence: Check the author's sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.

Look at other reports: If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it's more likely to be true.

Is the story a joke: Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humour or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody and whether the story's details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.

Some stories are intentionally false: Think critically about the stories you read and only share news that you know to be credible.

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