In Brief

Wikipedia founder to fight fake news with ‘Wikitribune’

Jimmy Wales launches crowd-sourced news website to counteract ‘alternative facts’

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is setting up a news website he hopes will fight the spread of "fake news".

Wikitribune will provide "fact-checked, global news stories… by the people and for the people", he announced yesterday.  

Stories will be written by professional journalists and unpaid contributors and fact-checked and edited by volunteers. Wales plans to pay the journalists through crowd-sourced donations and he hopes to keep the site free of advertising.

He told The Guardian: "This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them live as they develop and at all times backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts.

"I'm not sure that anyone's ever been as radical as I am… in terms of saying the community can really have control. A lot of people from traditional newsrooms have really had trouble getting their head around that."

Sponsors will have the chance to have a say on what stories are covered – something TechCrunch says could result in potential clashes when the journalists "come up with news their subscribers don't like".

Wales added that the idea for Wikitribune came after the US elections, but friends urged him to wait until Donald Trump had spent 100 days as US president before deciding whether to go ahead.

"But then on day one, Kellyanne Conway came out and said her 'alternative facts' line. That was when I really decided to move forward," he said.

What is fake news?

Fake news is false or inaccurate stories that have either been deliberately published in order to spread lies or have been published by writers who do not check all the facts or might exaggerate some aspects, writes the BBC.

The term first gained attention at Donald Trump's first press conference as president-elect, says the Daily Telegraph, when he told a CNN reporter: "You are fake news."

While propaganda is nothing new, a lot of fake news is driven by its creators hoping to make money online.

Wikitribune isn't the first attempt to get to the truth. Here are the other tools helping you to uncover fake news.

Facebook

The social network last month began a trial of its "disputed by multiple fact-checkers" warning. Alerts now appear when users post links to stories which Facebook knows are likely to be fake. The site relies on a list of accredited fact-checking organisations.

Google

Search giant Google this week enabled a new fact-check tool, writes Salon, which tags potentially dubious stories with a warning when enabled. Last year, Google began to identify stories from accredited fact-checking organisations in search results with a "fact check" tag, the BBC reported.

International Fact-Checking Network

The International Fact-Checking Network was founded by the Poynter Journalism School in Florida in 2015 to promote best practice among the fact-checking websites springing up online. Facebook considers organisations which have signed up to the site's code of conduct to be reliable.

Snopes

Snopes is, in a sense, older than the internet. Founded in 1995, it grew out of pre-web bulletin boards with a primary focus of debunking urban legends. It has been criticised as being partisan and its founders are accused of imposing left-wing views on the site.

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