My personal checklist to determine authenticity of information on social media is fairly simple: is the news source verified, is it a name I recognize, and is the link a reliable news source such as The New York Times? My father’s voice still echoes in the back of my head from when the “fake news” scandals on social media began: “Always cross reference, Autumn. If it’s on Facebook check the story on domestic credible sites, and then cross check the story on foreign sites. Then you’ll know you’ve got the real deal.”
To my surprise, I already had a pretty good system going on. Johns Hopkins University has a fantastic checklist to verify information on social media. They suggest looking at the “location of the source, who is in their network,” cross checking content from other sources, the context of the post in relation to previous ones, and the reliability of the source. But their best advice and utmost recommendation is: “if you are unsure whether a social media post is from a person or a bot, do not use the source.”
This past week Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey appeared before the US Senate in order to address what can be done to prevent inauthentic material on their platforms. Sandberg stated that Facebook is partnering “with third-party fact-checking organizations to limit the spread of” false information.
Latest update: Dorsey, Sandberg both admit Twitter and FB didn't do enough during 2016 election, pledge it'll be diff for 2018 https://t.co/xaNpUhmlF2
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) September 5, 2018
Dorsey followed up that Twitter will also be taking steps to prevent inauthentic material and accounts from spreading false information by suspension of malicious foreign accounts.
Bias in algorithms is an important topic. Our responsibility is to understand, measure, and reduce accidental bias due to factors such as the quality of the data used to train our algorithms. This is an extremely complex challenge facing everyone applying artificial intelligence.
— jack (@jack) September 5, 2018
Will Twitter and Facebook be true to their word?
We’ll just have to wait and see…