At Facebook, we know we need to do our part to help people understand how to make decisions about which sources to trust on the platform. False news runs counter to Facebook’s mission to connect users with the stories they find meaningful, so it’s our goal to help people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.

As part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to tackle False News on the platform, we’re rolling out an educational notice to help people in Ireland spot false news.

  • The notice, which users will starts seeing today, 12th April, will feature at the top of News Feed and offer users tips on how to spot false news.
  • When people click on this notice, they will see more information including advice on spotting false news such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source of the news and looking for further reports on the topic.
  • These same tips have also run in several print news publications in Ireland.

Niamh Sweeney, Head of Public Policy, Facebook Ireland said, “Improving news literacy is a global priority for Facebook, particularly so for us here in Ireland given the upcoming referendum in May. We understand and share people’s desire to see accurate information online and introducing this tool is an important start to improving news literacy in Ireland. However, we know it is just the beginning and we have more work to do to ensure Facebook’s News Feed is a place for authentic communication.”

The tips were developed in consultation with First Draft, a US based non-profit dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information online.

This educational feature forms part of Facebook’s referendum integrity efforts in Ireland. Facebook Ireland is a proud member of Media Literacy Ireland and supportive of its aim of empowering the Irish people with the skills and knowledge to engage with and understand traditional and new media.

Tips for spotting false news.

  1. Be sceptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all capital letters with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
  2. Look closely at the URL. A bogus or lookalike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site and compare the URL to established sources.
  3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organisation, check their “About” section to learn more.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
  5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
  6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
  7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humour or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
  10. Some stories are intentionally false. Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

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