Facebook training users to spot 'fake news'

Published: Apr. 13, 2017 at 11:08 PM MDT
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Facebook is trying to keep false information from spreading, by adding a new feature at the top of news feeds.

Now users can flag posts they think are false. Facebook's independent fact checkers will let readers know whether the information is true.

CMU mass communications professor Greg Mikolai said we should be critical of what we read.

“As we see the prevalence of news within social media, and that people are actually using social media as a source of their news, it becomes even more imperative that people think critically about those sources,” he said Mikolai.

Many said they get their news from Facebook or other online sources.

"Fake news is out there," said Cindy Granum, a Facebook user. “We see things in print and think it's the truth and it may not be.”

“Sometimes it’s a hoax and sometimes it’s to instill some fear, you never know,” said Facebook user, Emily Kempton.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said John Valenti, a Facebook user.

Mikolai said some sources can be parody or satire, but others sites have agendas politically or financially that will purposely post information to get attention.

“There are some sources that are presenting false news with the intent to deceive,” said Mikolai. “The problem with false news, fake news or however you call it, is it's dangerous on many levels.”

He said it’s best to always think critically about things on social media and not take them at face value.

”The easiest way [to fact check] is to try to gather some other sources, to corroborate the facts around the story,” Mikolai said. “Recognize the URL, what is the web address that is being used to present this information?”

He reminds users to note opinions are different than facts.

“Just because you don't agree with the content of a story, doesn't necessarily make it fake news,” he said. “Just because you don’ t like the information that is presented with a story doesn’t mean it’s false. As a society, we need to be less sensitive to whether or not objective reality or objective fact interferes with our worldviews and understand that facts are just that.”

Some of the advice Facebook gives is to look at the dates of the articles, watch for unusual formatting, and triple check the facts.

For details on how to flag a post on Facebook as “false” click the link on the right side of this screen.