back to article Facebook fake news: Sort it out yourself, readers

Talk about chutzpah. Facebook has launched its PR campaign to combat "fake news" with the slogan "Together we can limit the spread of false news". Together? Yes, together. Them and you. But mostly you, it seems. It kicks off with a list of 10 tips for internet users to identify falsehoods, much as Elizabethan witch-hunters …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    I don't use FB bit

    #2 - check the URL. Doesn't FB do the same as Twitter and shorten them (fb.me, bit.ly etc) so how can you check the URL without clicking on it? Stupid list from a stupid man running a stupid company.

    (but rich!!!)

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Re-Write

    Tip #1. Don't read Facebook for your news!

    That is all, no need for 10 steps.

    1. handleoclast
      Holmes

      Re: Re-Write

      Your tip used twice as many words as were necessary. You could have shortened it:

      Don't read Facebook.

      FTFY

    2. Purple-Stater

      Re: Re-Write

      "Tip #1. Don't read Facebook for your news!"

      Are you trying to tell me that the "news" articles on Facebook that I ready by following the Guardian and BBC are different that the articles I read directly on their websites?

      Certainly, I don't follow Facebook News (basic ad-blockers seem to weed that mess out quite nicely), but Facebook itself is a great place to read your news, you just have to be smart enough to not follow those groups that spew the fake garbage in the first place.

  3. Esme

    Seems like they're trying to explain the need for critical thinking, which IMO, if it hasn't been learnt by the time one leaves school is probably not goingto be learnt.

    1. John Lilburne

      It is the same old wikipedia cop-out:

      Don't rely on anything on this site check somewhere else.

      which renders the information on the site as useless.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        >Don't rely on anything on this site check somewhere else.

        which renders the information on the site as useless.

        If you are too lazy to 2nd source especially important information then its not the site that is useless. Though I will admit picking not low but fruit dragging the ground wikipedia was a good way to cover your argument.

  4. sjsmoto

    It's "Facebook" not "Factbook". Why should I expect anything on there to NOT be fake?

  5. Shaha Alam

    its just easier to accept we're all heading for an idiocracy, a government of the stupid, by the stupid, for the stupid. if we're not there already.

    with any luck, the smart people will just take their ball and fuck off elsewhere, leaving the rest of us to stew in our own stupidity.

    that's if any of them actually played ball games. which we know they dont.

    so in conclusion, have another sip of your victory gin.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      FTFY

      its just easier to accept we're all heading for an idiocracy, a government of the stupid, by the stupid, for the wealthy. if we're not there already.

      If people aren't already hanging from lampposts, you know the wealthy got in again.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is clearly the fake news.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Or new fakes...

  7. Random Handle

    > Usually harmless old ladies mumbling

    Pretty sure that's what Facebook will be in 10 or 15 years.... certainly has zero appeal for my kids and their peers.

  8. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    Andrew.

    "Fundamentally this is because Facebook, and Silicon Valley, doesn't want to hold a mirror to itself and its role in the clickbait content economy, which is the only economic model it wants to pursue."

    About the only bits missing there are "buzzword bingo".

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm

    I suppose there's always this:

    https://fullfact.org/

  10. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    I have a better solution, Facebook should stop pretending to have a news section. Relabel it "trending" or something else that actually represents what the section contains.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      "Bleating" would be more accurate.

  11. Drat

    The rules people actually use..

    This is the logic most people currently use

    1) Does the news content conflict with your views? Then assume it is fake and produced by the global elite/revolutionary guard/evil puppets from the planet Zog

    2) Does the news content support your views? Then assume it is the holy truth written by honest defenders of mankind who would help old ladies cross the road if they weren't too busy distributing blankets for small furry animals who have fallen on hard times

    1. Only me!

      Re: The rules people actually use

      Most maybe....

      But what about those who read, digest, investigate, think...ponder...(Greek words input as you choose)

      Some people..."some" actually try and think about what is best for society, not just them and there mates.....but everyone.

      Let's all take on the values of Norway and see what happens.......

      Problem.....it will take decades to convert everyone from all sides!!!!!

  12. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Couldn't agree more with most of this, although I'm not sure measuring the effectiveness of the impact of fake stories by "engagement" (whatever that is) is reliable. I've had a few mates quote me the "donald trump said if was going to run, it would be as a republican" one - people that would probably know better in general. They might not have clicked on it, but it certainly registered.

    This stuff does have an impact, which is why it matters that facebook is going to do cock all except offer a "here's ten crazy ways to improve your critical thinking they don't want you to know" type guidance (am I the only one that finds their form-factor a tad ironic?)

  13. Barry Rueger

    Only one rule needed

    Is there a professional, journalism trained editor in charge?

    It does make a difference, and there is still a reason why the NYT is more trusted than BuzzFeed.

    1. whileI'mhere

      Re: Only one rule needed

      "Is there a professional, journalism trained editor in charge?"

      Like the Evening Standard? (Not that I'd pay attention to a single thing it published before or after that smarmy git took over as editor.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only one rule needed

      > Is there a professional, journalism trained editor in charge?

      Like News of The World?

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Only one rule needed

      Speaking as a professional, journalism-trained editor:

      There's a lot of misunderstanding about that job. Remember: a journalist's job is to persuade as many people as possible to read something. (Or view something, or listen, or... you get the idea.)

      That's it. The only metric that matters is "How many people read what you wrote today? Yesterday? Tomorrow?" Everything else is gravy.

      Because the key word in your definition is "professional", i.e. "this is what they do for a living". Payment depends on eyeballs. Unless you can find some way to change that equation, then clickbait will remain the highest and purest form of journalism.

      1. Naselus

        Re: Only one rule needed

        "Speaking as a professional, journalism-trained editor:"

        Pretty sure you missed a whole bunch of classes if you think volume is the only metric that matters in journalism. Starting with the ethics class that most journalism degrees include as compulsory and which is codified by every single professional journalist association as a condition of membership.

        So, while your argument qualifies you to be the editor of the Sun, it doesn't make you a professional journo.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see what the problem is.

    Just classify all news as fake.

    Any mainstream news outlet that complains of fake news only has themselves to blame. When they harp on for years that Iraq has WMD's and none are found what do they expect?

    I've lost count of the number of stories in the mainstream media that I question because they just can't be true or they have such a propaganda slant it's unreal.

    1. RonWheeler

      or, the opposite

      err, you do realise anyone bleating about WMDs has had their brain reset by mainstream media?

      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/27/opinion/a-disappointing-choice-on-iraq.html

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: FailCEO

    "Facebook wants to be how you get your "news" "

    So does my newsagent, and they have about as much standing in the 'finding news and reporting it' stakes as Facebook does.

  16. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Fake News impact

    "the numbers didn't seem to support the proposition that the fake stories had a major impact"

    Plenty of people believe blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, more prone to violence, and responsible for the overwhelming majority of crime.

    Many believe Saddam was responsible for 9-11 and actually had weapons of mass destruction.

    And many others believe Muslims simply "live to kill".

    How do we measure what sort of impact Fake News is having? It seems to have had a very deep impact even before we coined a new terms for lies and deliberate demonisations.

    1. Muncher23

      Re: Fake News impact

      James B wrote (in quotes):

      Plenty of people believe "Plenty of people believe blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, more prone to violence, and responsible for the overwhelming majority of crime."

      Many believe "Many believe Saddam was responsible for 9-11 and actually had weapons of mass destruction."

      And many others believe "many others believe Muslims simply "live to kill"."

      Yes there are many "deliberate demonisations."

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "Together we can limit the spread of false news".

    Is it just me or does that sound more like a weasel worded lawyery get-out when they are later accused of doing nothing about stemming the tide of fake news? "Fake" is the word on everyones lips, so why would Facebook use "false"? Don't they know what is trending?

    1. Madeye

      Re: "Together we can limit the spread of false news".

      They are avoiding the use of the word "fake" in case someone notices that Fakebook would actually be quite a catchy nickname

  18. JCDenton

    "Stop being yourselves!" says Facebook to its users

    But isn't the problem with fake news caused by the users themselves? A user posts it, somebody likes it, then somebody shares it, and the cycle perpetuates itself.

  19. Anonymous C0ward
    Trollface

    /b/ - Random

    The stories and information posted here are artistic works of fiction and falsehood.

    Only a fool would take anything posted here as fact.

  20. TheSkunkyMonk

    misspellings and "unusual formatting"

    Legalese, should be looking at that even more. Still amazes me that modern society allows the legal elite to use completely different definitions to words than there stand oxford equivalent. It kind of sound like a bit of a con maybe?

    1. Kernel Silver badge

      Re: misspellings and "unusual formatting"

      "there stand oxford equivalent."

      And that's as good an illustration as any as to why legal language is what it is - the difference in meaning between what you've written and what you intended, " their standard Oxford English Dictionary equivalent", could easily be worked up into more than enough for even a moderately competent lawyer to retire on.

  21. Not also known as SC

    Malleus Maleficarum

    Never knew about the Malleus Maleficarum. Fascinating stuff.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys
      Happy

      Re: Malleus Maleficarum

      Ah yes, a misspent youth listening to and playing in thrash/death metal bands before I I was lured into an IT career, my bandmates and friends would look for inspiration from such things. The Maleficarum, various latin texts and books of the dead, great places to find gory subjects just ripe for heavy metal lyrics!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice illustration... I was browsing /pol/ in another tab and when I switched over to El Reg I first thought I was still on /pol/.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All news is fake, especially the shit from alt.reich turds like Murdoch.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best article I've read on the subject.

    Seriously. Thank you.

  25. druck Silver badge

    Who are they trying to fool

    Why are they using adverts in newspapers about how to recognise fake news? Those who think there is news on Facebook don't use traditional media. The only reason to is to try to convince non Facebook users and politicians that they are trying to tackle the issue.

  26. JustWondering
    Facepalm

    Ummm ...

    About #10: "Some stories are intentionally false"

    Isn't that what the whole deal here is about? We know there are fake stories; a fat lot of good it does to tell us that.

  27. veti Silver badge

    Tip 0

    They're still not including the real tip, which is READ the fucking story.

    You're never gonna know what's real or fake unless you make an effort to, y'know, understand what it's saying. And what every news story says is:

    "X says Y"

    If the story doesn't tell you who X is, or what Y is, then it's not news. If it leaves you in doubt about these things, then it is at best badly written news - at worst, it's being intentionally misleading.

    Once you know who X is, then you can look for other sources to cross-reference. Without that information, that's impossible. Anyone who leaves out that information? - whatever they're writing, it's not news.

  28. Patrick R

    Might Capitalism help?

    Sure the Fake News click bait is bringing the (more) cash but there is obviously a demand for real news. , There is a market for that, there must be someone with an offer. It's just a matter of protecting your reputation of Real -fact checked- News and there you go. Why not?

    1. Naselus

      Re: Might Capitalism help?

      No, since the demand for real news is (and always has been) much smaller than the market for fake news. People like to be told what they've always thought is correct, and so will pay more to have their existing biases confirmed than they will for something which challenges them.

      See literally any post from Big John in a Trump thread for examples.

  29. STrRedWolf

    Bad use of dead character for graphic

    Great timing on using Pepe the Frog in the header image there, lads. He's dead.

    https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/05/07/matt-furie-killed-off-pepe-frog-free-comic-book-day/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad use of dead character for graphic

      reeeeeeeee normies!!!!

  30. Ole Juul

    "Oh, lucky internet."

    Actually, the problem is that Facebook is not the internet, and that some people think it is.

  31. Topperfalkon

    You seem to have forgotten...

    Facebook also launched functionality recently to alert users if a link to a news story had been reported as false by fact-checking organisations. So they're not entirely shifting the burden

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    snafu

    In other words, Facebook is saying: enjoy swimming in the sewer. Keep your mouth closed at all times. Try and swim round really obvious turds.

    In other words, the cancerous internet as usual.

  33. Chris Evans

    Just NOT TRUE

    I follow the axiom: Just because something is in the newspaper, on the TV/Radio or the internet doesn't necessarily mean it is false!

    The trouble is who do you trust?

  34. Naselus

    Actually...

    I don't see why this is Facebook's problem. Like, at all. That's like arguing that a paper company is responsible for the Daily Mail printing bullshit on their product.

    News should always be consumed from multiple sources and cross-referenced. Failing to do that is pretty much on the consumer's head, not the medium he found it on. If you can't tell the credibility difference between the NYT and Breitbart... well, that's an education system issue. For example, if I paste a fictional story about an alien invasion on FB, and someone is stupid enough to think that it's true, then it's not Facebook's fault for failing to flag it up as fiction. It's your fault for not being able to check other news sources over trusting a completely unknown dude on the internet suggesting Arkansas has been taken over by the Vogons.

    This is what happens when your education system doesn't provide any critical thinking skills until halfway through university. Which more or less all Western education systems have been designed around for decades - there were tight oligopolies controlling the dissemination of news, most of whom had comfortable by subservient relationships with the state (even when they were nominally hostile to it), so you just didn't have avenues for fake news to go global. Meanwhile, you only wanted, say, 20% of the population to be involved in managerial tasks that required the ability to critically engage with data; everyone else was bound for the factory floor or mostly just needed to know not to stand under the steam hammer while it was in motion. So it was fine - and actually desirable - for 80% of the population to have no serious critical thinking skills whatsoever, as otherwise they might start questioning official narratives - like 'We're always the good guys, even when we're dropping napalm on peasant villages'.

    The internet (along with aggressively partisan media outlets that overtly challenge mainstream narratives for political ends, like Fox News) is slowly breaking that shit down. Iraq 2 was when it really started to kick off, as the official narrative (Sadam is connected to 9/11 and has WMDs) simply wasn't convincing to those who did have critical thinking skills, and they could circumvent the controlled official channels to talk about it rather than being shut out in the cold. Every major newspaper supported the war at the start. It was bloggers who were saying it didn't add up. That caused a collapse of trust in the 'official' narrative forming channels (the newspapers etc), but people didn't suddenly develop the ability to critically analyse information themselves - they disliked the media because it had proven to be lying AFTER the event, not because they didn't find the arguments convincing while they were being made. So now they don't trust the Lying New York Times, but they don't have the skills needed to determine whether Infowars.com is a pile of fictional dogshit until some idiot goes and shoots up a pizza parlour to prove it wrong.

    The answer to this is not 'we must re-empower the gatekeepers of information', because the gatekeepers are inevitably corrupt, whether they're Facebook, or the NYT, or the Washington Post, or the Guardian. It's to make sure people can actually tell if an argument is actually convincing or not. Which is what Facebook's ten points are actually trying to do - point out a basic university-level critical thinking process which you really need to understand to survive in an information-rich environment.

    So no, I don't want Facebook to suddenly declare itself the editor in chief of the internet, and yes, it should be down to the user to check.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019