It seems the old curse “may you live in interesting times” has come true. We now live in a world where “fake news” and “alternative facts” are part of our vernacular and something we must guard against. But one of the challenges of the online world is that misinformation can be spread quickly and become “fact” before there’s a chance to verify it. Google is having a crack at verifying sources and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is as well.
Wikitribune says it will be “a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together” in order to “make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved”.
Google is going something similar with their Fact Check service.
And, today, Facebook has announced their own efforts at helping you validate news by presenting related links to stories so you can check sources a little more easily. However, the algorithms they use will need to be pretty smart in order to not simply show stories that report the same information.
When I read a news story of interest, I look at alternate sources, with a particular focus on where the story was originally reported as there’s a lot of “me too” reporting where the same data and quotes are re-hashed. That’s not a bad thing but finding the original source of a story can help with context and ensuring the source is trustworthy.
What do you do to validate a piece of news?