Students fix up the Fake News problem on Facebook

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Pic: Facebook

Social media site has faced criticism since the presidential election for its role in disseminating fake and misleading stories that are indistinguishable from real news. Because Facebook’s algorithm is designed to determine what its individual users want to see, people often see only that which validates their existing beliefs regardless of whether the information is true and this what actually happened when Nabanita De scrolled through her Facebook feed recently, she felt afraid. There were so many posts with competing information and accusations about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that she didn’t know how to begin deciphering the fearmongering from the reality.

So after all this between fake and reality and what’s cooking in between, Nabanita De along with other three teammates, Anant Goel, Mark Craft and Qinglin Chen developed an algorithm to authenticate what is real and what is fake on Facebook and called it FiB. They built this Chrome browser extension that tags links in Facebook feeds as verified or not verified by taking into account factors such as the source’s credibility and cross-checking the content with other news stories. Where a post appears to be false, the plug-in will provide a summary of more credible information on the topic online. A small blue box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen says either “verified” or “not verified.”

According to Anant Goel, Facebook would team up with a third-party developer such as FiB so that the company could control all news feed data but let the developers verify it so Facebook couldn’t be accused of “hidden agendas or biases.” Both companies Facebook and Google) have said this week that they will take steps to address the spread of fake news but till now no company has contacted the students for this.

According to BuzzFeed News investigation, This year’s presidential election has shown how the lines have blurred between fact and lies, with people profiting from the spread of fake news. More than 100 news sites that made up pro-Trump content.

Melissa Zimdars, a communications professor at Merrimack College in North Andover also created a list of fake, misleading or satirical sites as a reference, not as a direct response to the postelection fake news debate but to encourage students to be more media-literate by checking what they read against other sources.

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