“Fake news” has become a popular bête noir in the aftermath of the 2016 election, with numerous people blaming the wide spread of online disinformation for playing a part in Donald Trump’s surprise victory last Tuesday. And while Google and Facebook have both moved to cut ad revenue to fake news sites—despite Mark Zuckerberg’s assertion that claims that false information on Facebook impacted the election are “a pretty crazy idea”—the problem is far from solved.
A team of college students are looking to change that, though, with The Washington Post reporting on the work of Nabanita De, a masters student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Working with a team at a Princeton University hackathon, De has developed FiB, a Chrome extension that checks the credibility and reliability of articles posted on Facebook, and labels them either “verified” or “non-verified.” It also provides users with a list of more credible sources for non-verified information.
Google named the extension its “Best Moonshot” at the jam, but neither the search engine company nor Facebook have reached out to De about making the extension more official. It’s not clear whether that’s because both companies are working on their own solutions to the problem, as promised, or if they just don’t think telling people the stories they’re consuming are blatant lies will do much good in a “post-truth” world. Either way, FiB has been released by De and her teammates as an open-source project, available to all. (At least, once the crushing demand abates and it’s available to download again.)