Fake news is an international crisis.
The issues surrounding fake news are complex: first, you have world leaders using the term "fake news" as a way to deligitamise all media coverage of their regimes, and then there is the widespread sharing of misinformation, either by unwitting participants or actors hoping to interfere with democracy. It's such a dire situation that, in the US, Facebook, Google, and Twitter had to appear on Capitol Hill.
During the October hearing, which doubled as a public reckoning, executives from the internet giants had to publicly acknowledge their role in Russia’s influence on the US presidential campaign. However, at the time, they merely promised to do better. Now, Facebook is making good on that promise, by rolling out the first of several initiatives designed to promote factual journalism, rather than fake news.
Facebook has launched “Trust Indicators" - and here's what you need to know about them.
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What are Trust Indicators?
The Trust Project, an international consortium of news organisations hosted by Santa Clara University, developed the Trust Indicators. Its funders include Google and Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. The consortium set out to answer one question: How can people know if the news they read online is trustworthy? As a result, it came up with set of digital standards to show who wrote any given news story.
The standards also help clarify if the story is news or opinion, as well as who owns the news site publishing the story, and other information that can help a reader understand whether the story is fake news or based on authentic, factual journalism. The consortium has begun with a small group of publishers, such as The Economist, The Washington Post, and The Independent Journal Review, and will expand over time.
In conjunction with "senior news executives" and collaborators from 20 news organizations, the Trust Project said it built a list of indicators of trustworthy news and worked together to build editorial definitions. They sought out to define "trust indicators" from an editorial perspective and propose an industry standard for each. Based on this work, Facebook has launched its version of a trust indicator tool.
How do Facebook Trust Indicators work?
Going forward, you will see a small "i" icon next to articles in your news feed. They offer more information about the publisher behind that story. Publishers can choose to share their ethics policy, corrections policy, fact-checking policy, ownership structure, and masthead, according to Facebook, which said it kicking things off with a few publishers. It plans to eventually include more publishers.
Can they stop fake news from spreading?
It's too early to tell, but this is a great start.
In a statement, Facebook said it believes giving people access to "important contextual information can help them evaluate if articles are from a publisher they trust, and if the story itself is credible." It said Trust Indicators are part of a larger effort to combat false news and misinformation on Facebook. It wants to provide "people with more context to help them make more informed decisions".
Is Facebook the only one using indicators?
Nope. Google, Twitter, and several publishers, including The Washington Post, plan to begin using trust indicators to help people determine the reliability of the content they're reading online. Like the ones on Facebook, these new indicators will appear as symbols and will provide more information about how a story was reported, by whom, and the media property's standards, among other things.