Flock Adds 'Fake News' Detector to Collaboration Platform

When two or more people are chatting on Flock, and one shares a link, Flock automatically generates a URL preview of that link and goes to work authenticating it.

In view of the recent rash of so-called "fake news" stories pouring into networks of all types, we have an observation: This is hardly new. The fact is, fake and otherwise manipulated news has been around as long as there has been written communication among people.
But fake news in a specific way is advancing the current cultural and political divisiveness in the U.S. While there's a lot of talk about this in the context of current events, few people and companies have actually done anything about it.

One of those few is Flock.
Flock, a new-gen messaging and collaboration platform with users in some 25,000 global organizations, has announced the immediate availability of the Flock Fake News Detector. This first-of-its-kind feature empowers Flock users to stop false and misleading information from being introduced into their messaging/collaboration environments and decision-making processes.

URLs Are No. 2 on Information-Sharing List

"A large chunk of our information, our perception, is comprised largely of reading stuff that people share, and in many ways, information knowledge is power—it shapes who we are," Flock CEO Bhavin Turakhia told eWEEK. "Outside of chat messages, the next-biggest type of content shared—on any messenger platform—are URLs, links to various content.

"It became imperative and important for us, and even more so for us in an organizational context, that we are able to flag and provide information to both senders and recipients on the veracity and accuracy of the news and the links that they post."
Fake and misleading news has the power to shape opinions and influence decisions. At any level of an organization, using information from unreliable sources as a basis for decision-making has a high probability to negatively impact the business.
That's why Flock focused on developing a tool to help identify questionable news sites and the stories they publish, Turakhia said. "This is a new app that runs on top of our platform and integrates into Flock," Turakhia said.

How It Works

When two or more people are chatting on Flock, and one shares a link, Flock automatically generates a URL preview of that link and goes to work authenticating it.

"The sharing action will trip a hook that will activate the Flock Fake News Detector app, which has an algorithm that checks databases of websites classified by score and ranking," Turakhia said. "It will then return a score and a corresponding warning if the app detects the link shared as a sort that can't be trusted."
A highly visible icon and red bar alongside the preview of the URL makes it impossible for users to ignore the alert. Users then have the option to remove the content before it becomes widespread, Turakhia said.
As of Jan. 18, Flock's database had more than 600 verified fake news sources. It is continually adding information to its database about various trusted and distrusted websites, Turakhia said.
"Optimal decisions are based on reliable information; however, employees rarely have the time to validate each piece of information they receive or consider," Turakhia said. "Unfortunately, misinformation breeds misinformation, and through the simple means of sharing in today's digital ecosystem, one unreliable piece of content can easily spread like wildfire throughout an entire organization and beyond.
"With the Flock Fake News Detector, we've taken a socially responsible and proactive step to counter this global epidemic and support organizational productivity, efficiency and decision-making."
To see the Flock Fake News Detector in action, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...