Facebook and Google launch new tools to filter fake news

We may soon be seeing less ‘fake news’.

Facebook and Google launch new tools to filter fake news

You’d be forgiven for thinking all that you read in the news and on social media is borne of legitimate sources, but some of it is ‘fake news’ and thankfully, we may soon be seeing less of it.

Most people have an inherent trust in the integrity of news publications. And if they see a news item over and again, it legitimises it even further. And yet, fake news has become so mainstream, that it’s difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff.

To combat the fake news uprising, Facebook has announced a new tool that labels misinformation as ‘fake news stories’, using internet fact-checking websites such as Snopes.com and PolitiFact, so users will no longer be fooled into thinking that everything they read is true.

"While we don't write the news stories you read and share, we also recognise we're more than just a distributor of news. We're a new kind of platform for public discourse – and that means we have a new kind of responsibility to enable people to have the most meaningful conversations, and to build a space where people can be informed," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s appointed fact-checkers are non-partisan entities that are required to sign a ‘Code of Principles’ created by the Poynter non-profit school for journalism.

Any articles that appear on Facebook which seem illegitimate are analysed by these fact-checkers and labelled as a ‘Disputed by Snopes.com and PolitiFact’.

The social media giant also has a facility for readers to label a story as fake, by tapping at the top right-hand side on ‘It’s a fake news story’. Once a story is flagged, it is checked by third-party fact-checkers for its legitimacy, then labelled accordingly.

Facebook is also curating a list of suspicious newsfeeds and websites that have been caught out by its algorithms.

Google has also joined in on the fake news hunt, after copping flak as a spreader of mistruths. Because Google operates on a popularity response rather than ‘true’ trusted results, some of its popular, but deceptive, content has been confused with real news. In response, the search engine recently launched its own algorithm that analyses and labels fake news stories as such.

Opinion: Is this a slippery slope?

These fake news filters are one small step towards restoring faith in the news cycle, but they may also be the first step on a slippery slope of censorship and control of world news.

Let’s face it: fake news has become epidemic. So much so, that it was heralded as the Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016.

If you’re as sick as we are of hearing political figures labelling any story that opposes their agenda as ‘fake news’, but then using misinformation to suit their own agenda, then, thankfully, these fact-checking tools and algorithms may be the answer to our yearning for some truth.

However, it’s worth pondering the notion that, while these fact-checkers may seem as if they’re a saviour, what if they were to fall into the wrong hands?

Would we be living in a world where all information is censored and subject to approval?

I recall the Nazis taking control of the Bauhaus – once a respected art school – and turning it into a propaganda machine with the sole purpose of brainwashing all Germans into thinking that the rest of the world was inferior. Remember Mother Russia’s infamous control over all things art and media, allowing only what it deemed fit for public consumption? Or what about the political propaganda of modern-day North Korea and China?

Hopefully, these fact-checkers won’t take us down this path. They may be in safe hands currently, but they’re also still under the control of monolithic social media and internet machines that are attached to corporate interests. Who’s to say that this interest won’t have some future sway when it comes to what information is released to the public?

I’m all for improving the legitimacy of news. Yes, the responsibility should be on the journalists and reporters who write the news, backed up by rigorous fact-checking by copy-editors and sub-editors. But there must also be some modicum of accountability on the reader to make up their own mind as to what is real and what is not.

And you know? Taken with a grain of salt, some fake news is just plain fun to read.

My fear is that, should these fact-checkers one day be the final filter, all you’ll read will be homogenised and pasteurised by some artificial intelligence managed by those who hold the reins of power – the rich, privileged and those with a vested interest who can afford to buy their way past these filters – and then what you read may end up being a more refined version of what they want you to read.

What do you think of the implications of these fact-checking algorithms?

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    COMMENTS

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    8th Mar 2017
    11:13am
    The real name for Fake News is lies. Any effort to remove lies from the media can only be a good thing. What is of more concern to me is the half truths told by the media which can give a different perspective on a story.

    I had a friend transferred in his job from a capital city to the country where a residence was supplied. If I said that he was separated from his wife and living in a company house with an 18 year old female I would be telling the truth. However, the full story is that it was in October, his wife worked at the nearby high school where their younger child was completing the final year. After the exams, they would both move to the country to reunite the family. The 18 year old was a daughter who had also been transferred in her job. That's what I mean by the media slanting a story with part of the truth.
    MICK
    8th Mar 2017
    8:18pm
    Agree Old Man.

    "Most people have an inherent trust in the integrity of news publications." Really Leon? The "news" has been corrupted by those with a vested interest. Some like to create a story but others are more devious. Watch the news when an election campaign is run and you'll soon notice some anomalies: one side gets more air time. One side is groomed. The other side is run into the ground. That's what they call "news".
    And then look at who owns the empires and/or who controls them. There you have a complete picture.
    As far as Facebook moderating news I have to wonder who picks the moderators as this is where the real action is.
    People are just so gullible and believe the lies. That says a lot about people. It makes you want to cry at times.
    FrankC
    8th Mar 2017
    11:21am
    Journalists do have a responsibility, but if it sounds "juicy" and it sells newspapers, print it, after all , it is about making money, and that is what the editor wants to do.
    Triss
    8th Mar 2017
    3:00pm
    But isn't it readers and buyers of mags and newspapers who have caused this? How many "Celebrity" magazines are there now? Any newspaper or mag that advertises inside knowledge of celebs or royals are bought up straight away. I can't imagine why people people think their own lives are so dull that they have to live through someone elses but they are the ones who buy these lurid half truths.
    Ban celebraty magazines, I say, and save half a forest in the making of useless paper.
    Easy Rider
    8th Mar 2017
    11:37am
    The whole internet (including Facebook) is chock-a-block with fake news, lies and propaganda. We can't even trust pictures or videos since the advent of photo shop. Nevertheless it is very concerning that the net (Facebook) will be censored. Just who is to say what is lies or truth? I would prefer to sort that out for myself. Just imagine if the rabid lefties had control of the what we see or hear! The thought is horrifying!
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2017
    12:06pm
    Agree that all Internet is full of fake news and half-truths / lies, yet am constantly amazed how so many (especially Gen Y, many of Gen X) accept anything written on the Internet as the truth. Another example is how half-true people's profiles on LinkedIn are blindly accepted by recruiters as the truth just because it is on internet.

    Besides Fox News (Fake News?) of USA, we also have rabid right-wing media in Australia constantly dishing out censored half-truths or simply skipping inconvenient news / information, just to add to the confusion created by fake news on Fakebook(?), Google, etc, so not just the lefties.
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2017
    12:12pm
    I should have also mentioned - the biggest piece of rubbish out there on the Internet with no accountability with people hiding their identities while rubbishing others - is Twitter! It should be banned by all Govts as it is also used for bullying.
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2017
    12:22pm
    Facebook is already censored and linked to FBI...
    KSS
    8th Mar 2017
    1:13pm
    George don't 'forget' the 'rabid left wing media in Australia constantly dishing out censored half truths or simply skipping inconvenient news / information' as well.
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2017
    3:42pm
    KSS, not sure what you are on about as I covered lefties as well. But in Australia, other than the ABC (which is also now run by a Govt-friendly right-wing ex-News Corp executive who is busy sacking around 200 staff), the entire mainstream media is controlled by right-wing business leaders led by Murdoch. So, we all get brain-washed by them to talk about the imaginary left wing media lefties!
    KSS
    8th Mar 2017
    8:23pm
    So you haven't read the Guardian then?
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2017
    9:01pm
    Nope, no interest in going to UK-controlled media to learn about Oz! Just like I wouldn't depend on Fox News or CNN to learn about Oz.
    Rae
    8th Mar 2017
    11:46am
    When the AI begin running the show it could in fact get better. Who knows. It will be fine or not. If not at least we'll be busy fighting the Hal's of the New World. Especially if they decide we are irrational, unreliable and destructive.

    When people like Zuckerberg and Hawkings believe we are asking for trouble then we probably are.

    Typical human thing to do though isn't it?
    grounded
    8th Mar 2017
    12:08pm
    ....and who is 'fact tracking' the 'Fact Trackers'....PolitiFact and Snopes!? Stupid question I have asked....we all know that's Walter Mitti's job.

    "Freedom of the Press"....as now redefined by the Frankfurt School of Cultured Marxism....Lol!

    8th Mar 2017
    12:21pm
    If one checks who owns the mainstream media and follows the trail of money should be able to come to conclusion where the fake news really come from.

    The mainstream media is grooming our brain to accept everything they say or print, anything that is convenient for whoever or whatever events are linked to them and to justify what's already planed ahead.

    If the truth is discovered and revealed it becomes a fake news.

    We must learn to switch our own brains...
    Franky
    8th Mar 2017
    7:25pm
    Well said, always follow the money

    8th Mar 2017
    12:29pm
    The National Security Agency and the FBI teamed up in October 2010 to develop techniques for turning Facebook into a surveillance tool.
    NSA and FBI partnership developed techniques for exploiting Facebook chats, capturing private photos, collecting IP addresses, and gathering private profile data.

    Facebook is the perfect mass surveillance tool.

    Read more here: http://venturebeat.com/2014/05/15/how-the-nsa-fbi-made-facebook-the-perfect-mass-surveillance-tool/


    The CIA can spy on anyone through TVs, iPhones, smart phones and Windows PCs

    http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-03-07-vault-7-bombshell-just-vindicated-every-conspiracy-theorist-the-cia-can-spy-on-anyone-through-tvs-iphones-smart-phones-and-windows-pcs.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIGdWsxHJlM
    floss
    8th Mar 2017
    12:44pm
    Does this mean no more O.G.
    funkee
    8th Mar 2017
    1:09pm
    Is this a slippery slope - you bet it is
    Is this a form of censorship - you bet it is
    Slopes have been outed as being anything but unbiased too BTW, do some research, not sure about Politifact but wouldn't be surprised. Wikipedia another one.
    You see here's the thing.... we don't need to protected from fake news, or any news, real news, imaginary news, good news or bad news. We're adults for Petes sake!!! Most of us still have an abundance of highly active grey matter and we can think for ourselves. Any attempt to "filter" fake news is the 1%ers, the so called 'elite' trying to control what we think.... well I'll tell you what I think... take your fake news filters and flush them down the nearest dunny. Have a good day.
    Mrs P
    8th Mar 2017
    1:10pm
    What a sad world we live in. I want to be able to trust the news that is 'fed' to us, I don't want watered down or a built up version just to suit the journalists and their bosses. It is things like this that make me glad that I am at the end of my life and not just starting it! There are no values anymore and I for one think that is a terrible thing.
    Rae
    8th Mar 2017
    2:39pm
    There are still values. The difference now is the need to go into every transaction being aware that it is about " me" not us. We grew up in the era of Community. We knew each other. Even in the City.

    I lived in the inner city and kids did not step out of line or an adult who knew you would tell your Mum or Dad.

    People knew each other so there was a line the majority didn't step over and you knew who the dodgy ones were.

    People are still mostly human. The internet will help shape the world and be a great tool but we must teach our young how to interpret the data. To tell truth from fiction, opinion from fact.

    I'd love to be young now. I worked a fair part of my careers with high school kids and most were terrific people at heart, just like they always have been The problems will be faced and connections will happen. People learn fast.

    There are values now you just need to find the people with comparative values and have no assumptions or expectations above demanding impeccable truths.

    And there is the problem. Finding those speaking impeccable truths.
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    6:41pm
    A bygone era which will not return anytime soon.
    funkee
    8th Mar 2017
    1:10pm
    Seriously thinking about dumping fb for good, but like most oldies, it's a good way to keep track of what our kids are up to..... conundrum
    KSS
    8th Mar 2017
    1:19pm
    You don't need Facebook to keep track of kids. Do it the old fashioned way - like telephone, face to face meetings, or even (dramatic pause) a hand-written letter!
    Rae
    8th Mar 2017
    2:47pm
    Love it KSS. We took the extended family on a cruise a few years ago. It was hysterical teaching note writing and time scheduling and daily meetings. The fact that they couldn't immediately contact one another positively scared and frustrated the young ones.
    It was an eye opener to lost skills of communication.
    They settled and adapted very well though.
    It was a grand experiment.
    Charlie
    8th Mar 2017
    1:18pm
    So who checks the fact checkers.
    Being in control of the fact checkers is just another step up to being in control of the news. Sometimes social media is a way of "letting the cat out of the bag" and spoiling it for those who tell great big lies. Social media is good but sometimes it gets so full of crap and needs a cleanup.

    What I see on face book a lot, are not straight out lies, but somebodies inaccurate interpretation of the law. The classic ones at the moment are "what is racism and what is not racism" and "what are the rights and what are not the rights" of aboriginal land rights. Then there is Trump OMG.

    Also there's political tricks like telling the truth, but leaving out information so people get the wrong message.
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    6:42pm
    The "Minister of Truth" who else!!!

    8th Mar 2017
    1:18pm
    Trolls are being hired everywhere to censor the 'fake news' in order to discredit it.

    I'm sure they censor this page also.
    They need to know what we think...
    KSS
    8th Mar 2017
    1:22pm
    HKW Trolls don't care what you think!
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2017
    1:39pm
    KSS

    Some don't. Some do, depending on orders they get.
    Some only take notes and pass them on.
    Other are told to target and discredit certain opinions, depending on the context of an article.
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2017
    1:41pm
    KSS,

    You see..

    You gave us a perfect example.

    By reading my comments you instantly knew who is to be targeted..

    ; )
    grounded
    8th Mar 2017
    2:41pm
    Hahaha...you two are really giving full reign to your self importance. (I know what I am talking about....each morning, I am fully briefed as to who I am 'troll' for the day. My handlers don't 'troll' this site every day.)
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    3:44pm
    Not so much censoring, but more than likely many comments posted on YLC are open to many users (Governments and Government Depts. for sure some of whom will almost certainly scrutinise them. Who knows where they end up or how they are used.. Just don't answer the knock at the door in the middle of the night.
    grounded
    8th Mar 2017
    4:39pm
    @niemakawa.....I do take your point....probably more so with this site bouncing off one of the mega dollar expenditure departments....pensions, human services etc.,
    Migrant
    8th Mar 2017
    2:31pm
    What's wrong with the commandment Do not bear false witness,.as an ethical standard.
    Migrant
    Rae
    8th Mar 2017
    2:49pm
    Good comment. There is a 50/50 chance you could be asked about any false witness one of these days and the answer be really important.
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    3:37pm
    This is just another attempt by Globalist Governments to ensure only their agendas and political views are allowed. Facebook have already been censored by the German Government not to publish any anti-"immigrant" sentiments. All Governments lie and conceal the truth from the people. The best filtering system is a person's common sense. This action by Facebook at the behest of Governments is totally unnecessary and more to the point dangerous.
    Aussiefrog
    8th Mar 2017
    5:50pm
    They call it faked news when it goes against their agenda or expose them. More liberty of expression or the window. People should decide for themselves what's fake or not!
    Aussiefrog
    8th Mar 2017
    5:53pm
    Sorry, out of the window
    Aquarian
    8th Mar 2017
    6:31pm
    Wonder how they will do that? I have had such blatent lies put on Facebook about myself and other family members that I will never have anything to do with Face Ache. It has caused massive rifts in my family and amongst friends. That Zucker Burger guy should be shot. It is an nothing more than a grapevine for simple minded people with no real friends. I can no longer have the pleasure of passing on good news about anything because everybody knows when everybody else has farted in less than 5 seconds. I am so lucky that I have so many real friends. No unsocial media for me.
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    6:38pm
    I used Facebook several years ago but after 1 month knew that it provides a gateway to all regarding your personal life so discontinued using it. I don't think you can actually delete your profile or "membership" so a foot print is left forever. This is the case with most social media websites, including this one. So user beware.
    Aquarian
    8th Mar 2017
    6:56pm
    Hi niemakawa. I though the same but then found I could delete everything. Check Google. I followed the instructions on there. Just means if you ever go back (not likely for me) you would have to set up a new account. So many people are convinced nobody can check what they put up without permission. NOT CORRECT. I can tell you from experience. Nothing is private on there.
    Aquarian
    8th Mar 2017
    7:05pm
    Just had another sitiuation woth Face Ache and only know about it because someone in another state texted me with the details. My mother spent 4 weeks in hospital and passed away 2 days ago. Someone put photos of her on Face Ache and the story inferred that the hospital was to blame for her condition. I got copies of the posts and showed them to the hospital administrators at a meeting. They were horrified but can do nothing about it. Face Ache is the worst thing anyone ever invented. Hopefully some day soon somebody does something about this. It is difficult to beleive that peole using it think they have friends. Got news for them !
    Aquarian
    8th Mar 2017
    7:05pm
    Just had another sitiuation woth Face Ache and only know about it because someone in another state texted me with the details. My mother spent 4 weeks in hospital and passed away 2 days ago. Someone put photos of her on Face Ache and the story inferred that the hospital was to blame for her condition. I got copies of the posts and showed them to the hospital administrators at a meeting. They were horrified but can do nothing about it. Face Ache is the worst thing anyone ever invented. Hopefully some day soon somebody does something about this. It is difficult to beleive that peole using it think they have friends. Got news for them !
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    7:16pm
    Aquarian, this article (recent) may interest you. Look at the last paragraph. If your FB friends have messages that you sent to them they will still be on their FB account. Nobody really knows how long data is kept not only by FB but by other social media websites even if data or profiles are deleted by the user. For me delete does not mean delete when it comes to IT. It can be resurrected when required. I think that is one reason that Governments (although they say differently) encourage the use of SM. It is for them a spying tool. I am quite aware that any posts by anyone can be "stripped" and the poster comments sent elsewhere for "intervention". That is the risk of SM. Nothing is sacred.
    Aquarian
    8th Mar 2017
    7:31pm
    Hi again niemakawa. I could not see a link to that article. But a couple of years back my wife was home for a while on genuine workers compensation. We discovered later that the insurance company involved had an agent videoing her in secret everywhere she went. We eventually got hold of the video disks and the final report. On part of the report it was stated "checked Facebook but no account available". And Face Ache is private ? Mmmmmmm ?
    niemakawa
    8th Mar 2017
    7:37pm
    Aquarian. here it is.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/permanently-delete-facebook-account/
    Franky
    8th Mar 2017
    7:24pm
    There's always so many ways to look at news and interpret it, the best is still to consult trusted news sources from different parts of the world in order to get an idea of what is really happening. As I travel a lot I get a feel on the ground what's happening and can then compare that with what I read. It's surprising how biased our Western mainstream news has become. So I am not expecting more truth from Facebook.
    Batara
    8th Mar 2017
    9:03pm
    I see this as a good move, but while 70 odd percent of our print media is owned by a US citizen with a heavy bias to extreme right beliefs what chance do we have of reading balanced reporting? Journalists working for that US citizen should look to Australia's national interests in having a press that presents news rather than opinion disguised as news.
    LiveItUp
    9th Mar 2017
    7:46am
    All so called news has to be taken with a grain of salt. I personally know a very famous couple very well and we all have a good laugh of what nags like New Idea write about them to sell their mags. Facebook is just a good laugh as man there is so funny crazy stuff there. Even trusted news reports are well not to be trusted. It's just all good entertainment value if you are in the mood.
    JAID
    9th Mar 2017
    2:28pm
    Most of what you say sounds pretty fair...but, who would trust Mr. Zuckerberg or any of his mates to filter what they read. That is, even if any substantial part of the tripe people carry on with on facebook was worth reading.