We all know the repercussions of fake news and poor credibility. It can be damaging in terms of public relations and brand image. Several organizations including Facebook have started to tackle this issue. In January, Facebook unveiled the ‘Journalism Project’ to strengthen media ties and promote news literacy. The project’s key objectives include working with journalists to build storytelling tools, monetization options and to work with third parties to promote news literacy on and off the social network. More recently Facebook announced that it will be ‘flagging’ fake news. Bogus posts from disreputable sites will still show up on your Facebook timeline however they will be accompanied by a small warning banner.
The issue with this system is that there is a lengthy process involved in vetting articles and issuing the warning banner on the ‘fake news’. First, the fake post has to be flagged by a particular number of users of the social network’s automated software. After this, the post is then sent to a fact-checking website like Politifact where it is scrutinized. If two or more fact-checkers flag it again, Facebook will apply the banner.
In Thailand, the Facebook mechanism is not yet active. But it is interesting to consider the implications. Just last week there was a kerfuffle over raising the VAT in Thailand. Journalists from mainstream reported a pending increase of one percent. The government denied this – and labeled it fake news. We wonder how Facebook would have weighed in on this – if at all?
Facebook is not the only game in town when it comes to managing the fake news phenomenon. Another example is Google Chrome’s add-ons/extensions such as ‘Fake News Alert’. Once you install this extension onto your Chrome web browser it flags up any news source that is questionable while surfing the web. Tools like this could eventually become as smart as utilizing cookies to understand the types of sites you visit and create a news credibility score on potential posts and articles – giving you an idea of how likely a particular article is providing false information.
However, this topic still raises several questions. Why are many people relying on Facebook and tools to be developed in order to flag particular news? Aren’t we supposed to be responsible for our own media literacy?
While Facebook is working really hard to solve this complex issue, we have to start questioning sources and particular news articles ourselves and challenge articles that are misleading and exaggerated. Creating a culture and community that heavily looks down and battles against this deceitful news will be key in moving forward.
Manit Sethi is the Social & Digital Coordinator at Vero PR, developing and managing both content and advertisements on the social network for a wide variety of clients. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.manitsethi.info