I posted the list, here, yesterday.
It’s a great start, but we need to develop a better, long term solution.
Nov. 15, 2016, 1:17 PM
Facebook is the world’s most widely used online service, connecting billions of people. It’s also responsible for the mass spread of false news and information.
The example above, featuring Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, is something that Facebook’s team actually made moves to fix.
Kelly was never fired from Fox News — her contract is set to expire soon, and she is negotiating her contract with her employer. Her show, “The Kelly File,” is the second-most-popular program on Fox News, behind Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Even worse is that Facebook makes it easy for users to share misinformation, false news stories, hyperbolic memes, and outright conspiracy theory. Some of these sites are intended to look like real publications (there are false versions of major outlets like ABC and MSNBC) but share only fake news; others are straight-up propaganda created by foreign nations (Russia and Macedonia, among others).
This is the kind of stuff you see in your Facebook feed from the likes of “World Politicus” and “InfoWars” — and it’s the kind of stuff being shared by millions, almost certainly including some of your friends and family.
Rather than wait on Facebook to fix the problem, users are taking solutions into their own hands.
The solution started with an assistant professor of media studies, Melissa Zimdars, and her attempt to educate her students in media literacy. Zimdars teaches at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, and she created a list named “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources.” The list is simple: It contains the names of a few dozen websites Zimdars believes Facebook users should be wary of.
It also supplies a small list of rules of engagement — we’re reprinted them in full here, as these are the same kinds of tools we use daily:
- Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites specialize in taking a piece of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts.”
- Watch out for websites that end in “. ” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.
- Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
- Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
- Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
- Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not always go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
- Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
- If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
- It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not specifically included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
The document is being spread across Facebook in the same way that Facebook spreads misinformation: through users sharing on their own page. In this way, Facebook users are pushing back against the service’s massive fake news problem by using the very tools that caused the problem in the first place.
Facebook, for its part, maintains that it is serious about fixing the issue. At the same time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly downplayed the problem, calling the issue of identifying truthful news “complicated.”
As people who identify and write truthful news for a living, we can attest — indeed, it is complicated. It’s also not impossible, even for a service as large as Facebook.