Fighting fake news through technology

A quick glance at the headlines on any given day of the week will corroborate the rise of fake news. In the digital age, where news is liked, shared and promoted at the speed of lightening, news – fake or otherwise – spreads far and wide. What may have started as a small rumour quickly becomes global news, thanks to the speed of the internet.

This hyper-connectivity is also what makes it very difficult for people to identify fake news and refrain from any sort of association or engagement with it.

After all, finding fake news is not as easy as, say, looking up the meaning of a word in a dictionary. News may be fake, misleading, clickbait, or downright false.

How does one check the veracity of a news item?

First things first. People need to be more critical about what we read or view and the source the news is associated with. This means going beyond just reading the article or news to the end. People must not only examine the headline carefully, but also learn more about the source of the news.

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Another thing that helps is verifying whether the same story has been published by other news outlets as well. And it’s important to stick to good, clean sources of information. Don’t get drawn in by sensational headlines or slick images. Use the power of Google to trace the news item and its sources.

What is being done to stop fake news?

As expected, governments and organisations around the world are responding to the threat of fake news. The Russian government has just announced the launch of its own service to counter what it deems fake news.

The BBC, which is known for its accurate and independent news reporting, has set up a permanent Reality Check team, which will check false stories or facts being shared on various social media channels. The team will work closely with Facebook, in particular, to counter false news.

Technology giants are also launching their own initiatives to fight the scourge of fake news. Google and Facebook recently launched CrossCheck, which functions in partnership with several news organisations in France.

As part of the initiative, Facebook encourages its users to flag articles that they suspect are inaccurate or blatantly false. These articles are then fact-checked by the partner organisations.

Articles deemed false by at least two news outfits are then flagged as disputed in users’ feeds. From here on, it really depends on users – whether they still choose to share the news or stop the falsehood right there.

Facebook already has in place a series of protocols that block ad sales to disputed sites, and has even brought in third-party verification processes to label articles as false or disputed.

How can technology help?

There is no doubt that in this day and age, it is very easy for fake news to spread given the plethora of communication tools and platforms available. But these very tools can help us fight fake news.

This is especially true of platforms that facilitate instant information sharing, such as messaging apps. And among these, team messaging apps can especially make a difference by weeding out fake news.

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Given the credibility that is associated with technology built for enterprise, team messaging platforms today have the necessary arms and ammunition to fight fake news.

One example is Flock, a team messenger with users across 25,000 organisations. Flock recently launched the Flock Fake News Detector (FND), which identifies and flags content from sources deemed misleading, unverified or false when shared on Flock.

Flock Fake News Detector (FND)
Flock Fake News Detector (FND)
Flock Fake News Detector (FND)
Flock Fake News Detector (FND)

The FND works by cross-referencing the URLs of links shared on Flock against a database of more than 600 verified fake news sources. Any fake news is immediately flagged with a highly visible icon and red bar alongside the preview of the URL. Using this tool, Flock users can easily identify fake news and refrain from sharing such content.

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What is the way forward?

At the end of the day, the onus of promoting truth lies with the general public. We need to exercise more caution and editorial judgement while sharing or promoting any news item.

People need to stand strong against the tide of populist ideas and the urge to instantly share gimmicky news that may rack up the most likes and comments. We are, indeed, the last barrier between fact and fiction.


Sourced by Bhavin Turakhia, CEO and founder of Flock

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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