Facebook Announces A Costly New Effort To Fight The Spread Of Fake News

“The initiative will address the problems of misinformation and disinformation”

Just twelve months ago, “fake news” would have sounded like the type of phrase a toddler would make up to avoid blame or discipline. But since the candidacy and election of Donald Trump, the term has emerged as a constant criticism by politicians and citizens on both sides of the aisle, predominately on social media, where stories are shared often because they align with philosophies, even if content is erroneous.

Facebook was seen by many as complicit in the rise of fake news, doing little to curb the mass sharing and buy-in from unscrupulous publications that are more interested in clicks than actual journalism. But now, realizing that the epidemic ultimately undermines the site’s value to its users, Facebook has announced it’s heading up the New Integrity Initiative to keep fake news off the social media site.

Steps have been taken and announcements have been made in the past, as the video below shows, but this initiative seems to be the most cohesive and permanent strategy put in place thus far.

The tech juggernaut is teaming up with the likes of web browser Mozilla, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, and several nonprofits and universities to address the problem of misleading or outright false news in the age of social media. The face of the effort is Campbell Brown, who was recently brought on by Facebook to head partnerships such as this one. Tasked with the daunting proposition of cleansing the internet of fake news, Brown said in a new blog post:

We’re excited to announce we are helping to found and fund the News Integrity Initiative, a diverse new network of partners who will work together to focus on news literacy. The initiative will address the problems of misinformation, disinformation, and the opportunities the internet provides to inform the public conversation in new ways."

While there’s little doubt that the focus here is on managing the fake news crisis that continues—real or imagined—in the media and on Facebook specifically, the hopes of those involved is that the New Integrity Initiative doesn't just eliminate the bad, but also improves the way real, honest journalism is both reported and shared on social media. To that end, journalism professor at CUNY, Jeff Jarvis, shared his goals for the future:

"My greatest hope is that this Initiative will provide the opportunity to work with Facebook and other platforms on reimagining news, on supporting innovation, on sharing data to study the public conversation, and on supporting news literacy broadly defined."

As it stands now, Facebook is the biggest platform for sharing news and information that the world has ever seen, so ridding it of something as subjective as “fake” journalism won’t happen overnight and will require the diligence of its users as well, but with $14 million invested in this program, it’s clear that the company’s taking it seriously, even if damage has been done.

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