Technology: Facebook to launch $14 million news literacy project to fight 'fake news'

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 11:15

A global alliance of tech industry and academic organisations unveiled plans on Monday to work together to combat the spread of "fake news" and improve public understanding of journalism.

The News Integrity Initiative will launch with $14 million from Facebook, the Ford Foundation, Mozilla and others, based at the City University of New York's journalism school, which will coordinate research, projects and events.

"We want to bring the conversation past just talking about media and to bring the public in," said Jeff Jarvis, who heads CUNY's Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

"We want to go beyond the fake news discussion and get to what I hope is a flight to quality."

Fake news became a serious issue in the US election campaign, when clearly fraudulent stories circulated on social media, potentially swaying some voters.

Concerns have been raised since then about hoaxes and misinformation affecting elections in Europe, with investigations showing how "click farms" generate revenue from online advertising using made-up news stories.

Facebook and Google have stepped up efforts to root out misinformation, Jarvis said, adding that helping the public understand the difference between fraudulent news and serious journalism will constitute an important element of the effort.

"We have to equip the public with better tools and better discussions," he said.

The initiative's mission is "to advance news literacy, to increase trust in journalism around the world and to better inform the public conversation," a statement said.