Facebook’s fake news problem: Chrome extension called FIB can help

FiB is a Chrome extension that help point out which news articles might be fake on Facebook.

By: Tech Desk | Published:November 21, 2016 5:18 pm
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Facebook is currently facing a credibility crisis over the issue of fake news and how it had an impact on the recent US election results. Reports have highlighted how unverified news shared on the site had a higher engagement. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally rolled out an action plan to deal with the problem. But there is a handy solution at hand to weed out fake news on the site, and it’s been developed by four students. FiB is a Chrome extension that help point out which news articles might be fake on the site; such articles get branded as ‘Not verified’ in the News Feed.

FiB was developed by Nabanita De a master’s student at the University of Massachusetts along with Anant Goel a first year student at Purdue University, and Mark Craft and Qinglin Chen, who are students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says a report in Washington Post.

The students presented FiB at a hackathon in Princeton University and also won the “Best Moonshot” award by Google. FiB is available as an open source-project, adds the report, and the students took over a day and a half to build this. FiB is already available for addition on the Chrome browser via the Chrome web store.

Description for FiB reads as “Our chrome-extension goes through your Facebook feed in real time as you browse it and verifies the authenticity of posts. These posts can be status updates, images or links. Our backend AI checks the facts within these posts and verifies them using image recognition, keyword extraction, and source verification and a Twitter search to verify if a screenshot of a Twitter update posted is authentic.

FiB also has a chatbot which can also verify user-generated content on the social media website. It relies on the same AI back end as to see if posts created by users contain false or unverified information, and the user can be notified.

Also read: Fake news and how it is killing democracy through social media timelines

Neither Facebook or Google have reached out to the FiB team, adds the report. Fake news on the internet isn’t just a Facebook issue. Google has itself been forced to crack down on websites which promote unverified news and will be banning them from using its Ad network.

While FiB sounds like an excellent idea, it is far from perfect as the early reviews show. One of the reviewers commented that even links from New York Times appeared with the ‘Not verified’ tag on them. Incidentally Goel has replied to some of the comments saying, “We are currently experiencing high amounts of traffic. Our servers should work better by then end of this week. Thank you for your patience.”

As an idea FiB is just starting out, and it could take time to improve. Facebook itself has just realised the magnitude of the problem, and now has an action plan in place. In a recent post Zuckerberg wrote they will look at better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false and also consider using third-party tools for verification. Facebook is also looking to explore labeling stories that have been flagged as false.