Rid Your Feed of Fake News With This Hoax-Detecting Chrome Extension
If you’re like 62 percent of Americans, you get the bulk of your news from social media. Facebook has done a great job at getting your attention, but when it comes to filtering out fiction from fact they haven’t been so successful. Headlines like “Pope Francis Shocks the World, Endorses Donald Trump” and “Britain Threatens to Invade Switzerland Over Toblerone Shape Row” (both of which are flat-out false) pop up alongside stories from respectable news sources. What’s worse, fake stories can rack up thousands of likes and shares, making it difficult for readers to spot a hoax when it’s in front of them.
Programmer Daniel Sieradski has taken this problem into his own hands by creating a Chrome extension called the “B.S. Detector,” Mashable reports. After installing the plug-in, Facebook users will see a red warning appear over any posts that lead back to dubious sources. The outlets Sieradski has flagged include fake news sites, satire sites, and untrustworthy sources from all political leanings.
The extension isn’t a perfect B.S. filter—it detects the sites, not the content of the articles themselves, and is only limited to the sources Sieradski programmed into the code. But it’s a good start for Facebook users looking to navigate their feed with a more skeptical eye. Facebook is just now beginning to crack down on false content, announcing recently that fake news sites were banned from using their advertising network. Still, experts remain pessimistic about the company taking more drastic action against the problem anytime soon.
In the meantime, there are plenty of steps web users can take to avoid getting duped. When reading an article, keep an eye out for things like detailed author biographies, citations and references, and original reporting to judge whether the piece is legitimate. Fake-sounding author names and headlines that seem too outrageous to be true are possible indicators that a story is a hoax. If you still aren’t sure if what you just read should be taken at face value, do a quick Google search to see if other outlets have covered it. If it’s nowhere else to be seen, there’s likely a reason for that.