There has been a lot of talk lately about fake news sites on Google and Facebook perpetuating false stories, especially during the presidential election. Some believe that erroneous information was purposely spread to sway voters opinion. Since Google and Facebook have become the medium through which the majority of online users experience the world, they have been highly criticized over the promotion of these fake sites.
Sad but true, a percentage of people think that everything you read on the internet is true. In the U.S., the contentious election of 2016 brought out extreme emotions of a divided and frustrated country. These fraudulent news stories helped to fan the flames and the wildfire of propaganda got out of control.
So, these two major players were forced to make some changes:
Google and Facebook Take Aim at Fake News Sites
Google kicked off the action on Monday afternoon when the Silicon Valley search giant said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook, the social network, updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.
“We have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”
Taken together, the decisions were a clear signal that the tech behemoths could no longer ignore the growing outcry over their power in distributing information to the American electorate.
Read the full post here: Google and Facebook Take Aim at Fake News Sites
I think it is interesting that there is a Wikipedia listing of Fake News Websites. Ironically, back in the day when the internet was young and Wikipedia first started, students at the school I taught at weren’t allowed to cite information found there because of the potential for false data due to the fact that anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles.
Today it is thought to be fairly credible because most writers cite their sources and studies have shown that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage are of a high standard, although it hasn’t been immune from the recent rash of fake news promotion.
The scary thing about false news stories is that some people get so riled up that they act on them. This video shares a story that happened recently about a man that read on a bogus site that a pizzeria in Washington D.C. was the center of a child abuse ring. The man actually went to the pizza place with a shotgun to investigate:
The problem with these sensationalized stories becoming viral is that we as humans share them with our family and friends. Even if the main social platforms do their best to stop these sites from getting attention, users need to educate themselves on how to manage false information. This article from BuzzFeed News provides a step-by-step method for reporting fake news:
This Is How You Can Stop Fake News From Spreading On Facebook – BuzzFeed News
Many people don’t realize that you can report fake news when you see it on Facebook. This helps stop it from spreading. The problem is that the option is kind of hidden. So here’s how to use it.
1. When you see false information like this hoax, click on the “v” menu in the upper-right corner of the post.
2. That pops up a menu. Choose “Report post.”
3. Then choose “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook.”
4. Now select “It’s a false news story.”
See the original post here: This Is How You Can Stop Fake News From Spreading On Facebook – BuzzFeed News
The actual story on BuzzFeed provides graphics to guide you if you have trouble finding the right menu. I think this would go a long way to preventing these stories from spreading. Can someone report a story as fake that is actually true? They can try, but I am sure there is a certain criteria as to how this is handled with the site administration. You also have the option to just hide them from your timeline.