Facebook is tackling sham accounts and offers “tips to spotting false news.” Google has a new “Fact Check” tag.
Watch out, fake news. Silicon Valley is coming for you.
Facebook announced this week that it is ramping up efforts to delete sham accounts that might spread fake news. “With these changes, we expect we will also reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts,” it wrote in a blog post on Thursday. In France, Facebook said this move “enabled us to take action against over 30,000 fake accounts.”
This is just a latest in a series of moves that Silicon Valley’s tech giants are doing to combat fake news. Last week, Google launched a tool for its search and news results that will help people determine whether information is real. The search engine will now place a “Fact Check” tag in its News results, in which it showcases results from fact-checking organizations like Politifact and Snopes.
So let’s say you search “27 million people enslaved.” The search result will show the claim, who claimed it, and whether it is true.
Last October, Google began testing this feature in a handful of countries. Last week, it announced the feature would launch worldwide. This move comes after Google apologized to major advertisers for placing their brands next to extremist content.
“With thousands of new articles published online every minute of every day, the amount of content confronting people online can be overwhelming,” Google writes in a blog post from this morning. “And unfortunately, not all of it is factual or true, making it hard for people to distinguish fact from fiction.”
And Facebook announced last week that it had launched a “tips for spotting false news” feature. Tips include “be skeptical of headlines,” “look closely at the URL,” “investigate the source,” and “watch for unusual formatting.”
Facebook also reiterated that it was doing the following to fight fake news “disrupting economic incentives” and “building new products to curb the spread of false news.”
Both of these fake-news-fighting features have their limitations. In Google’s case, it’s “Fact Check” feature will not be available for every search, and Google notes that there will be instances where different fact-checkers come to different conclusions.
And Facebook’s fake-news-spotting tips are only available atop newsfeeds in 14 countries for a limited time, and some have already shot down how Facebook executed this. “Facebook could have made these tips much easier to consume and more likely to be read if it had just hosted them inside the News Feed alert itself,” TechCrunch writes. “By instead linking out to the Help Center, the alert is likely to be repeatedly ignored by some, while others decline to wait for an outside site to load.”
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