Dutch students help Facebook in the battle against fake news

Master students Journalism and New Media from Leiden University will help Facebook prevent fake news
Regularly news items appear on Facebook which later turn out to be fake. For example a couple of months ago an item appeared which said that the Pope had spoken in support of American president Donald Trump. This turned out to be wrong. This is not good as the social media platform seems to increasingly be the place where people get their news from.

Fact checking
Facebook is increasing its efforts in battling this type of fake news. The have made it easier to report doubtful news. Facebook´s partners will then check the items reported to be wrong. Students of Journalism and New Media at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, united in the News checkers project, are one of those partners. Nu.nl is also part of the project.

If one or more partners confirm their doubt about an item, Facebook will then mark the item as doubtful. The fact checkers will write up an explanation giving their reasons. The items marked doubtful will be ranked lower in Facebook´s newsfeed.

The items marked doubtful will still be shared, but when people see the post there will be a clear warning about why the fact checkers are unsure of the truthfulness. It will not be possible to promote the items either.

Sander Dekker´s response
Sander Dekker, secretary of OCW (education, culture and science) and responsible for media strategy says “there has been a lot of discussion about fake news and putting fake news out into the world can have far-reaching consequences. I fully applaud the initiative by Facebook, Nu.nl and Leiden university.”



Jolanda van Drie

Bedrijfsjournalist, freelance redacteur voor Blokboek en Printmedianieuws en communicatie- en marketingmanager bij IT bedrijf Prindustry (Haarlem).

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