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Four Students Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem In 36 Hours

Four Students Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem In 36 Hours

Four Students Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem In 36 Hours

As Facebook executives issue statements and tweak their policies to suppress frustration over the growth of fake news on its platform, one group of students has taken the problem into their own hands — and came up with a fix for fake news problem in 36 hours flat.

The social media site has encountered criticism since the presidential election for its role in publishing fake and misleading stories that are indistinguishable from real news. Because Facebook's algorithm is intended to determine what its individual users want to see, people often see only that which confirms their present beliefs regardless of whether the information is true.

So when De, an international second-year master's student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, joined a hackathon at Princeton University this week where the goal was to develop a technology project in 36 hours, she advised to her three partners that they build an algorithm to validate what is real and what is fake on Facebook.


The four students - Anant Goel, Nabinta De, Qinglin Chen, and Mark Craft - made a Chrome browser extension that tags links in Facebook feeds as verified or not verified by taking into account issues such as the source's credibility and cross-referencing the content with other news stories. Where a post seems to be false, the plug-in will offer a summary of more reliable information on the topic online. A small blue box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen says either "verified" or "not verified." They've called it FiB.

Ideally, Goel said, Facebook would team up with a third-party developer such as FiB so that the company could control all news feed data but let the developers verify it so Facebook couldn't be accused of "hidden agendas or biases."

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