BBC creates a new team to challenge toxic “fake news”

In-depth reporting is being used by the BBC as a way to combat the prevalence of “fake news.” The network has put together a dedicated team to delve into unverified stories and create reports for its Reality Check sub-brand.

The network has coined the term “slow news” to refer to stories that require increased resources and time to produce and emphasizes that it won’t waste time on obviously false stories, instead focusing on debunking “alternative facts.” The BBC adds that it’s seen an upturn in U.S. viewership since the election due to controversial events that prompt Americans to seek verification from outside sources.

Problems caused by “fake news” are widespread

“Fake news” is a big problem these days. A December 2016 study showed that nearly one-fourth of the 1,000 Americans polled had shared such stories, which sometimes even lead to dangerous events: In December 2016, an unsubstantiated story linking a Washington, DC pizzeria with child sex trafficking led to an armed man firing shots in the restaurant and causing a panic.

Despite attempts by social media and other organizations to stem the flood of untrue news — Facebook recently revamped its trending topics feed in an attempt to regain credibility — it continues to be a factor on the internet, and its presence can have real consequences for digital publishers and online marketers as well as news organizations. If a false story causes your company’s listings to drop on Google Search, for example, it could potentially cause you to lose business and revenue.

Other leading digital publishers combat “fake news”

SODP is pleased to see prominent players like BuzzFeed, Google and SnapChat are taking steps to prevent “fake news” from infiltrating their sites. SnapChat, for example, is requiring all content to be “fact-checked and accurate,” and Google removed 80 million ads in 2016 for false, misleading or malicious content. Steps such as improving algorithms and artificial intelligence, as well as using employees and/or users to police content, can help to eliminate at least some of the misinformation that’s found on the web today.

What other methods do you, as digital publishers and online marketers, use to prevent sensational stories from diluting your credibility?

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Cyndi Bennett has more than 20 years' experience in copy editing, proofreading and writing. She currently writes and edits for a number of businesses and two Florida-based magazines.

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