Fake news is a threat to all that read and spread it. It’s also a threat to journalists. The more news that isn’t fact-checked or researched, the less real journalists are needed -- after all, anyone can come up with a fake story to spread. Fake news is also a real problem when it comes to politics, what we see on nightly news channels, and what we read on the Internet.
The problem is that it’s now really hard to tell what news is fake and what isn’t. But there might be a way to fix that issue. That way might be called Full Fact. Full Fact is a program developed in conjunction by Pierre Omidyar (former founder of eBay) and George Soros (investor).
What Full Fact Does
Full Fact checks facts. Mainly ‘facts’ spewed by politicians. The program scans statements made by politicians and instant checks to see whether or not those statements are true. How? Earlier versions of the program relied on a database full of facts that were entered manually, but the newest version of the program relies on officially published data that is accessed through the Office of National Statistics.
If politicians cite a fact that is true, the program will underline those words (on tv, for example, or on a webpage). If a claim is incorrect, the correct statistic will pop up on a screen. The program will eventually have a feature that allows users to fact-check news or articles through social media streams like Facebook and Twitter -- social media being the biggest offender when it comes to the spread of fake news.
Who It’s For
Full Fact is currently for journalists seeking fast answers to political statements. The program will help journalists argue false claims that politicians make. The program isn’t ready for the public yet because it does not provide short and concise answers - the answers are lengthier and reference other material that, for example, a political report would already know about.
Developers are also fast to point out that the program is not flawless. Sometimes it pulls up a fact that has nothing to do with a statement or a fact that isn’t exactly what a journalist might be looking for. But it is a start. As with most programs, developers are challenged with attempting to train the program to recognize some terms and idioms used in speech that may not be quickly referenced in a dictionary.
Full Fact wasn’t developed to provide the complete truth about all fake news. It was developed to provide journalists with a more relevant stance so that they may effectively push back against politicians that might be making false claims. Since the software isn’t perfect, it’s not ready for the public yet. There’s no public launch date yet, either.
But, once again, this is a start. It’s a way to begin fighting the fake news that many political debates are based on - and voters are swayed by. It’s a way for a journalist to say, ‘no, wait, that’s not the right information.’ It’s a way to stop the spread of false claims and facts by any means necessary. It might eventually be the way to stop the spread of fake news through social media outlets as well.