I posted last week on this plug-in developed by university students to help readers discern between "real" news and "fake" content - a small glimmer of hope that what we cannot or will not figure out for ourselves can be fixed with an algorithm.
There's also a lot of clambering to have Facebook - now the largest aggregator and distributor of news - to fix the problem, and they seem to be taking steps toward doing so ... although I have to agree with a senior global news editor who asked me at the pub yesterday: why is it up to Facebook to solve this?
As with so many things in life, I'm afraid it's up to us.
Got ideas to help educate people on what can believed, what should be double-checked and what can be ignored? Would love to hear them!
In the meantime, let's start a check-list on what's unlikely to be verifiable:
- Does not appear anywhere on any mainstream news feeds
- Uses ALL CAPS in the headline
- Poorly punctuated, spelled or worded
- Statements are unattributed
- The use of an exclamation point, anywhere in the text
- Headlines address audience in the second person: "you'll never believe this..."
This presidential election year has shown how the lines have blurred between fact and lies, with people profiting off the spread of fake news.