Mozilla joins the fight against fake news

Mozilla, the creator of a popular web browser, Firefox, has decided it is time to tackle fake news.

On August 8, 2017 the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which believes the Internet must always remain a global public resource that is open and accessible to all, announced the creation of the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) – a comprehensive effort to keep the Internet credible and healthy.

The approach will be a multi-faceted effort to keep the Internet credible that uses newly developed technology, public education, research and electronic interventions to disrupt fake news.

“Mozilla is developing products, research, and communities to battle information pollution and so-called ‘fake news’ online. And we’re seeking partners and allies to help us do so.

“The impact of misinformation on our society is one of the most divisive, fraught, and important topics of our day. Misinformation depletes transparency and sows discord, erodes participation and trust, and saps the web’s public benefit.

“In short: it makes the Internet less healthy. As a result, the Internet’s ability to power democratic society suffers greatly.”

Mozilla’s products have a deep reach into users of the Internet and is well placed to make an impact. Stay tuned.

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Facebook’s new fact-checking system is having no effect on fake news

Recent efforts by Facebook to stop the proliferation of fake news is having no effect according to a respected fact-checking organisation.

“Fake news is flying thick and fast,” said Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of Snopes, a highly respected fact-checking site partnering with Facebook to review content flagged by users as potentially false.

The Guardian asked Ms Binkowski if she believes Facebook’s new system is having an effect on false news through the use of tags, and she replied: “I honestly can’t tell.”

There is even anecdotal evidence that a fake news warning by Facebook can cause increased shared of an fake news article.

Despite this, most partner organisation believes the initiative is a step in the right direction.

Xana O’Neill, managing editor of ABC News Digital, said she believes the process is having a positive impact, but adds that Facebook is refusing to provide actual data to support the initiative.

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PA finds Facebook still earning from fake news

A recent investigation has revealed that Facebook is still earning money on the back of hoax content despite its promise to crack down on fake news.

The Press Association revealed that dodgy adverts and posts about celebrities such as Professor Stephen Hawking, Lord Sugar and the Queen persist – earning millions for the social media platform.

One advert about Lord Sugar used a webpage pretending to be The Sun to make money from gullible readers.

Similar scams on Facebook’s pages solicit clicks by claiming the death of the Queen, Professor Stephen Hawking and actor, Hugh Laurie.

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Press gazette launches Facebook Google duopoly campaign

A British publication for the journalism industry has launched a campaign to expose the duopoly of Facebook and Google, and stop the two destroying the UK journalism industry.

Press Gazette, a publication that has focused on journalism issues for over 50 years is seeking a fairer deal between news publishers and the internet giants that will better reward the creators of the content that the two platforms rely on.

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“We want Google and Facebook to become more responsible digital citizens, acting in a way that allows diverse digital news sources rather than gorging themselves on all the available digital advertising in a way which will lead smaller players to starve,” said editor, Dominic Ponsford, who questioned why the two internet giants receive special treatment over British news publishers.

“Imagine if two news publishers dominated digital media in the way that Facebook and Google do,” he said. “The Government would not allow such a duopoly to stand. Campaigners would call for them to be broken up in the name of media plurality.

“Yet by 2020 Google and Facebook are expected to take 71 per cent of all the money spent in the UK on digital advertising, according to a report by analysts OC&C.”

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The Press Gazette has launched a petition for people to register their concern.

Ponsford said that while news publishers are using digital channels more effectively than ever to reach their audiences, the advertising share they enjoy is continually being eroded by Facebook and Google.

“The effect of this can already be seen and is devastating for both the news industry and for society in general,” he said. “To add insult to injury, Google and Facebook are masters at avoiding paying tax in the UK on their vast profits.

“Journalism, which is broadly a social good, is being replaced by entities which have little responsibility and are complicit in creating a good deal of harm by distributing misleading and extremist content.”

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