Facebook, Twitter to Tackle Fake News

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In the wake of several fake trending news gaffes, Facebook has joined an organization dedicated to tackling misinformation online, alongside Twitter and more than two dozen other tech and media titans.

"We live in a time when trust and truth are issues that all newsrooms, and increasingly the social platforms themselves, are facing," First Draft News Managing Director Jenni Sargent wrote in a blog post.

The First Draft Coalition formed in June 2015, with support from Google News Labs. In the months since, members have worked to raise awareness and standards about how information is sourced and presented in the media. It now has the support of some big names, including YouTube, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, CNN, ProPublica, Agence France-Press (AFP), The Telegraph, Aljazeera Media Network, Amnesty International, and American Press Institute, among others.

In the era of citizen journalism—when anyone can edit Wikipedia or tweet about celebrity deaths—it's easy for facts to get lost amidst online noise and conspiracy theories. Even Facebook's algorithms were fooled. In the last few weeks alone, its trending topics section surfaced a 9/11 conspiracy and a false report about Fox News firing Megyn Kelly for supporting Hillary Clinton.

As a result, social networks, journalists, human rights activists, and academics are teaming up with the First Draft Coalition (FDC) to curb the chicanery and develop new initiatives. Ideas include a train-the-trainer program, a collaborative verification platform, and a voluntary code of practice.

"Filtering out false information can be hard," Sargent said. "We are not going to solve these problems over night, but we're certainly not going to solve them as individual organizations."

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