4 Students Have Developed a Plug-in to Debunk Fake News Posts on Facebook

Fake news - 4 students at the Princeton University hackathon have developed a plug-in to authenticate facebook posts

Princeton University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, recently held a hackathon. That’s not news in itself, but four students from different universities have created a plug-in that will tell you if a particular Facebook post is genuine or if it’s fake news being spread around. Moreover, it will also suggest more credible options – that’s far ahead of what two recently developed Google Chrome browser extensions can do.

RELATED ARTICLE: New Chrome Extension Warns You of Fake News Websites

The plug-in, which they’re calling FiB, was actually developed in 36 hours, the time limit that students are given during the hackathon. Incidentally, Facebook is one of the sponsors of the hackathon and Google gave FiB the “Best Moonshot” award. Neither company has publicly come forward to support the project, but it is likely that they are looking into the technology as a viable way to filter their content. Both companies were recently under fire for fake news posts and articles that have been making rounds during the U.S. Presidential Elections 2016.

The four students – Anant Goel, Nabanita De, Qinglin Chen and Mark Craft – have open-sourced the project and have posted a repo on GitHub. You can also add the extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Right now, it works for Facebook posts, and it will create a tag on the post that shows whether the post is verified or not. But other developers are already working to fine-tune it and, presumably, extend the same kind of functionality to other platforms.

The Issue of Fake News Articles and Social Media Posts

The problem of fake news has been around for a long time, but until now there hasn’t been anything significant created specifically for Facebook posts. Hopefully, this will begin a new revolution in the fight against spurious content on the web. The problem is, of course, much larger than the solution that FiB currently supports, but it’s a great start nonetheless.

One big question that rears its ugly head here is that if four students can develop something – even on a small scale such as FiB – and do that in 36 hours, why haven’t Facebook and Google, with their billions of dollars, done anything about it yet? After the backlash from the elections, Google decided to be more stringent about serving ads to sites that have non-authentic content, and Facebook merely re-worded its terms and conditions.

We find that a little disturbing, to say the least. At least, these kids have shown the way and sown the seed for other developers to come along and improve on it, or even create their own software applications and plug-ins for weeding out fake news from tons of genuine reports.

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a new era of internet content authentication, which is a sorely needed functionality that has been ignored for far too long.

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