West Chester Technology Blog

Bing Joins War Against Fake News

Microsoft is jumping on the fake news bandwagon, adding a “Fact Check” label to Bing. Facebook enacted a crackdown on fake news months ago, and Google soon followed suit. And now, Microsoft is joining the party. And you’ll soon see the fruits of these labors in Bing search results.

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It’s getting increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction. And we have the internet to blame for this phenomenon. Sure, false news stories, conspiracy theories, and urban legends were born and spread before the advent of the internet. However it’s much worse these days, mostly a result from the internet and social media.

Fake News Is a Serious Business

Fake news isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is now much more prevalent than ever before. Fabricated news stories are being written, spread, and perpetuated to actually affect people’s opinions on specific countries, politicians, and celebrities. And the whole thing is becoming a serious business.

Having watched Facebook and Google both do their utmost to help people separate fact from fiction, Microsoft is adding a new UX element to Bing search results. The “Fact Check” label, as it’s called, will add fact-checking information to search results without the user ever having to leave Bing.

Essentially, Bing will add a note where applicable to news stories and web pages. These will instantly show users that a claim has been fact-checked by an organization such as Snopes or Politifact, and reveal what their assessment of it is. Whether it’s True, False, or somewhere in-between.

Bing Is Bigger Than You Think

I can already hear that the Fact Check label on Bing is meaningless because no one uses Bing. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, as Microsoft was keen to point out in August 2017, Bing is bigger than you think. So, given Bing’s popularity, Microsoft’s efforts to fight fake news should be applauded.

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Facebook’s Fake News Battle Continues

In its latest attempt to fix its fake news problem, Facebook will now block Pages that spread fake news from advertising on the site. “If Pages repeatedly share stories marked as false, these repeat offenders will no longer be allowed to advertise on Facebook,” it said in a statement.

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Earlier this year, Facebook began flagging fake news posts and promoting more legitimate content over sketchy articles. It also began deprioritizing content shared by individuals who post over 50 times per day when research showed that in those cases, the shared posts often included misinformation and sensationalism. In a more direct challenge of fake news, the site recently began publishing fact checkers’ takes on articles labeled as potentially fake and making it easier to get to different articles related to any given post.

The company has already banned fake news websites from generating ad revenue on Facebook and blocked ads that link to fake news stories. It says its latest update is to take the fight against fake news a step further. “Today’s update helps to disrupt the economic incentives and curb the spread of false news, which is another step towards building a more informed community on Facebook,” it said.

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Facebook Continues it’s Fight Against Fake News

Facebook on Thursday began offering additional links to news stories as another method to help users discern false news and misinformation.

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The changes are seen in Facebook’s “related articles” feature, and are meant to better restrict inaccurate news without requiring the social media site to censor material.

The change will affect Facebook pages in the United States, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook was criticized for failing to rein in the spread of deliberately false information on the social network. After first resisting potential changes, Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s responsibility to deliver legitimate news stories.

Facebook has partnered with fact-checking website Snopes.com, which labels some stories as false from a Facebook-built database.

Also, Facebook said its machine learning algorithm has improved its efficiency, meaning it will now send more potential false news to fact-checkers.

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Fake News, YouTube & Aliens Collide

NASA is making great strides at learning and explaining the complexities of not just the planets in our celestial backyard, but also the makeup of our galaxy and the universe as a whole. It seems that new planets, some that can even sustain life are being discovered regularly. This is where science ends and the problem with fake news and how it can be distributed via social media begins.

About a week ago, a video surfaced on YouTube claiming that NASA was about to reveal the first hard evidence of alien life, and what happened next is probably going to make your shake your head in disbelief at the wonder of fake news and how many people continue to fall for it.

The You Tube video, which was uploaded by someone calling himself “Anonymous Global,” is just a collection of old stock footage and an (of course) obscured voice claiming that NASA has found alien life and was going to announce it soon. There is nothing here but a bunch of nonsense. In fact, the person in the video reading the paper doesn’t even appear to be speaking the words heard in the clip, and it’s likely just a looped clip of a previous video being reused for the umpteenth time.

Because this is the internet, this means someone is going to share it, others are going to watch it, and some people are going to believe it. What is amazing is that the entire thing began to snowball, hitting sites like Daily Mail and eventually even Newsweek, crediting “Anonymous” with having evidence that NASA is poised to reveal the discovery of aliens, with absolutely nothing in the realm of reality to back it up.

Setting aside the obvious issues with various news outlets referring to Anonymous as a “group” — when in reality the entire concept of Anonymous is that there is no structure or members in the traditional sense. The video is very clearly nothing more than an attempt to generate some ad revenue. Ads play in the middle of the video as well as the beginning, which is hilarious, and since the video has now gained over one million clicks, it’s probably making a decent chunk of change.

This is a clear example of the travesty of fake news. People often believe anything – even when they know better.

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