Well if you have any thirst for real-life entertainment, you would come across claims of how Donald Trump won the 2016 elections with the help of Russian influences. With the spread of actual fake news, (not the ones claimed by Trump), targeted ads, social media has become a tool to manipulate voters.
With Karnataka’s state elections coming up on May 12, Facebook has decided that it’s vital that there is no interference with elections anywhere, including the ones in India.
So what is Facebook doing to tackle fake news, you may ask. Well, it has announced a third-party fact-checking programme in the state to combat the spread of false news on the platform. They have partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative.
“Starting today, BOOM, certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, a non-partisan international fact-checking network at Poynter, will be able to review English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy,” Facebook said, in a blog post.
BOOM is also one of the only two fact checkers in India and South Asia that has been certified by the International Fact Checking Network, Poynter Institute. BOOM is the news division of Ping Digital Network and has been in existence since 2014. It has been a full-fledged fact checking initiative since November 2016.
“When a fact-checker rates a story as false, we will show it lower in the News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution. This, in turn, stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it,” the blog post added.
The task is not going to be simple. With over 270 million users, India has the highest number of Facebook users as compared to other nations. And worldwide, for every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.
Though initiatives like these do exist, their effectiveness is limited. If we set our beliefs that Facebook will address the issue of fake news, we must realise that the belief is a flimsy one.
For starters, only posts in the English language will be reviewed, while Facebook supports the platform in 11 Indian languages! This means that there is enough scope for stories and posts in regional languages to slip through. Further, Facebook is not the only platform where fake news is spread.
Despite these challenges, here’s what you can do. Be sceptical of the news you come across and do not believe it right away. Attempt fact-checking yourself. Know that you have the tools in your reach to prevent fake news.
You can also use BOOM, where you can WhatsApp their hotline number (7700906111) and tag them in stories and posts on Facebook and Twitter that you would like verified.
Support investigative journalism, and if you do come across fake news, you can also report the post by clicking the three-dot menu and giving your feedback.
Everyone has a responsibility to fight fake news and it’s a fight that cannot be won without the help of the public.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Hey, want to know how to protect your FB data; Read here: Cambridge Analytica Scandal: 3 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Facebook Data