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Facebook launches resource to help spot misleading news

07 April 2017

Scammers took advantage of Facebook and Google ad revenue programs by creating websites that posted stories they knew to be fake, but earned them money every time someone clicked or shared.

The new feature is part of a broader plan by Facebook to clamp down false news stories, which gained outsizeattention in the months leading up to the 2016 USA presidential election. "Yes we have a responsibility to reduce the amount of time people come across false news ... but also help them to make more informed decisions".

FILE - In this June 11, 2014, file photo, a man walks past a Facebook sign in an office on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook announced Thursday, April 6, 2017, it is launching a tool to help users spot false news articles on the site.

As part of its effort Facebook worked with a non-profit that looks to improve skills and standards in reporting and sharing information.

"We're featuring this tool at the top of News Feed for a few days to people on Facebook in 14 countries".

Check the dates. Fake news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates which are wrong or have been altered.

The company warns you to be skeptical of headlines as fake news often has a catchy title with exclamation points for emphasis.

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Check the evidence. Check the author's sources to confirm that they are accurate.

But Facebook's news feed boss Adam Mosseri described it as "somewhat concerning". Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story. "Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes", he said.

The tips being offered to Canadian Facebook users were inspired by a recent research project carried out by MediaSmarts, in which young people were asked what kind of strategies they use to authenticate information they find online.

Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. "Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story's details and tone suggest it may just be for fun", the social network advises.

Some stories are intentionally false.

The company, for instance, is working with outside fact-checking and media organizations to identify false news as such. "There's a next step that we would like to see Facebook ask itself: 'Can it help users answer some of these questions more easily?'"

Facebook launches resource to help spot misleading news