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Facebook, Google, and other major tech firms partnered with various global news organizations to help identify trustworthy news sources and label fake news in an effort to fight online misinformation. This bold idea, called the “Trust Project,” also involves big names like Twitter and Microsoft, as well as around 75 news organizations.

“An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story,” said Sally Lerhman, the project leader and a member of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Misinformation is a common occurrence in the online world, as anyone can create a website and place whatever information they want. While others are blatantly obvious as fake sources, there are still a number of legitimate-looking websites with incorrect information posing as facts and news sources.

In an effort to eradicate such propaganda and half-truths, Facebook partnered with fact-checking third parties. Users can then label something on their wall by reporting it as fake news, which then takes around three days or more for one of the third party fact checkers to verify.

Facebook’s manager of news partnerships, Jason white, said they are analyzing data closely. “Once we receive a false rating from one of our fact checking partners, we are able to reduce future impressions on Facebook by 80 percent,” White mentioned.

The Facebook’s system starts to “demote” a story in the News Feed when at least one fact-checker finds it as fake news. When at least two fact-checkers rate this news piece as fake, the article is labeled as “Disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers” – a label that normal Facebook users can either accept or ignore. When a user clicks the label, they receive more information as to why the article was disputed in the first place.

However, a Yale study disputes this, saying the initiative did not work. Yale University researchers found that these disputed links made only 2.7 percent of participants actually try to determine if a headline was true or not.

According to the researchers, this statistic is concerning as more and more people get their news from social media. In a recent study published by Pew Research, it was found that 78 percent of Americans under 50 go to social media for their news.

Trust Indicators Highlight Credibility

Laptop with Fake News on a Feed.

Credible journalism is getting more difficult to spot these days. However, over 75 major news outlets all over the world have partnered with big names in tech in an effort to lessen and eventually get rid of fake news. The Trust Project’s collaborative effort involves Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft’s Bing.

The sites should soon display “trust indicators” on their sites, which provide additional information to help determine their credibility. This includes information about the story’s sources, the author’s expertise, the news outlet’s best practices, and even references and citations as applicable.

Facebook already started with their original fake news label, so this partnership is an additional move that adds more contextual information. Starting with a small group of publishers, the social media giant is hoping they can expand this pool soon.

Google is still working on what is best for their search engine to display the indicators, while Bing and Twitter are also working on their respective sites’ methodology to meet standards for transparency and ethics.

“An increasingly skeptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story,” said Sally Lerhman, the project leader and a member of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Participating news sources agree to core practices such as transparency on funding and disclosure their organization’s mission, information about the journalists, and even a labeling of whether it’s an opinion or factual article.

Participating news organizations include the Washington Post, the Independent Journal Review, and Mic in the United States, Globe and Mail in Canada, press agency DPA in Germany, La Repubblica and La Stampa in Italy, and the Economist and Trinity Mirror in the United Kingdom.