In Brief

Facebook trials 'fake news' warnings

The social networking site will warn users if the story they are sharing is 'disputed' by fact-checkers

Facebook has begun to roll out a new feature intended to alert users if they are about to share or read false news stories.

After widespread criticism for its role in propagating so-called 'fake news' during last year's US election, the social networking giant announced in December it would join forces with independent fact-checkers.

Users in the US reported seeing a red warning triangle when they attempted to share a false story about an alleged Irish slave trade. When they clicked on the warning, a second pop-up appeared which read: "Sometimes people share fake news without knowing it. When independent fact-checkers dispute this content, you may be able to visit their websites to find out why."

Others users saw an alert that stated the article had been disputed by Snopes, a long-running website which debunks urban legends and fake news stories, and the Associated Press, one of the largest global news agencies.

The Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism institute based in Florida, launched an International Fact-Checker's Network in 2015, promoting best practice among fact-checking sites. Facebook has decided to list sites signed up to its code of conduct as official fact-checkers.

Not everybody is happy with the new service. Paul Joseph Watson, right-wing blogger and editor of the conspiracy theory site Infowars, questioned the authority of Facebook's sources. "Snopes is a bias [sic], far-left outfit," he tweeted. "It is not a responsible 'fact-checker'."

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