In Light of Election Coverage, New Browser Extensions Will Warn You of Fake News Sites
Technology| | By Matthew D'Onofrio
The election results may not change, but the American people’s ways still can.
New Google Chrome extensions have been born to combat the continuation of fake news by unqualified “news sites” and their existence inspires a new mindset when browsing the web.
After President-elect Donald Trump shockingly won the election, many Americans across the nation soon realized their shock came from the internet’s constant flood of news, much of which was wrong, brainwashing them to believe otherwise.
However, urgent light has been shed on these fake news sites along with America’s naivety, and moving forward starts with draining the swamp of both with the help of these extensions, which warns readers when they visit a website well-known to put out fake news.
At the moment, two popular ones exist: B.S. Detector and Fake News Alert. The former was created on Monday by Daniel Sieradski of The Self Agency LLC, and the latter by Brian Feldman of New York magazine a day later.
The applications hold a list of websites they deem likely to publish false information, which is entered manually (no algorithm, yet), and users will get a pop-up saying, “This website is considered a questionable source,” or “The information on this site might be false or misleading,” if the page is fishy.
So, websites like the infamous Breitbart News will be flagged and so will satirical ones like The Onion.
“Not all of these sources are always or inherently problematic,” noted Melissa Zimdars, communication and media professor from Merrimack College in Massachusetts, whom created a list herself. “They should be considered in conjunction with other news/info sources due to their tendency to rely on clickbait headlines. You should read it closely, feel free to disagree, and, in the spirit of media literacy, do your own research.”
Regardless of whether citizens use an extension or reference list, this emerging revolution of just “being careful” while on the world wide web is real and necessary, even proven on a larger scale by the recent efforts of Facebook and Google beginning to actively shrink their ad networks to exclude hoax websites.
Coincidentally on Tuesday, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” their Word of the Year 2016. It means relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
Ring a bell? It should. Many view the phenomenon as a reason behind Trump’s victory and the campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union – known as Brexit.
Until media literacy is taught in schools across the nation, and mandated, those who indulge themselves on the internet and other forms of media must understand what is fact versus spin – even lies – or risk yet another November surprise.
How? Simple! Start with using one of these extensions. (Or at least the list…)