Some major tech and education players are getting together to help solve one of the more serious problems of the internet age: the poisoning of legitimate news streams with false or misleading information.
Fundamentally, they are trying to educate the reading public about how to recognize fake news when they see it and learn to trust the news production of reputable news publishers.
Facebook, which introduced its News Integrity Initiative on April 3, led the way. The Ford Foundation, City University of New York, the Mozilla Foundation and several other tech companies and nonprofits joined the social network to launch a $14 million fund dedicated to advancing news literacy.
The money will be invested in the News Integrity Initiative with the goal of increasing trust in journalism worldwide and better informing the public conversation. CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism will be in charge of administering the project.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his company have taken a great deal of criticism during the last year and a half. This all was spurred by the U.S. presidential campaign, which was the subject of much of the "fake news" planted by opportunists with no ethical backbones on Facebook and other publications. These "fake news" creators are from inside and outside the United States, aiming to make profits and disrupt the legitimate process of electing the nation's highest political figure.
As a conveyor--not a creator--of news, Facebook found itself in a dilemma last year when many subscribers used the 1.8 billion-member network to spread false and misleading information of many types, not only about the election. Research shows that a high percentage of Facebook members utilize the network to aggregate much of their news on any given day, so Zuckerberg and his team sought out ways in which to do automated and personalized fact-checking.
Other backers of this initiative include the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, AppNexus, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, the Democracy Fund, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and Betaworks. Money will be allocated to applied research and projects, along with facilitating meetings with industry experts.
"The initiative will address the problems of misinformation, disinformation and the opportunities the internet provides to inform the public conversation in new ways," Facebook head of news partnership Campbell Brown wrote in a blog post. "As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we want to give people the tools necessary to be discerning about the information they see online.
"Improving news literacy is a global concern, and this diverse group assembled by CUNY brings together experts from around the world to work toward building more informed communities."
Thus far, 19 organizations and individuals have signed up to participate in this project, including:
--Arizona State University
--Center for Community and Ethnic Media at CUNY Journalism School
--Constructive Institute at Aarhus University in Denmark
--Edelman based in the U.S.
--European Journalism Centre in the Netherlands
--Fundación Gabriel García Márquez para el Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI) based in Colombia
--Hamburg Media School in Germany
--Hans-Bredow-Institut in Germany
--The Ida B. Wells Society in the U.S.
--International Center for Journalists based in the U.S.
--News Literacy Project based in the U.S.
--Polis, London School of Economics in the U.K.
--Ecole de Journalisme de Sciences Po (Sciences Po Journalism School) in France
--The Society of Publishers in Asia based in Hong Kong
--Trust Project based in the U.S.
--Walkley Foundation in Australia
--Weber Shandwick based in the U.S.
--Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales
--United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development headquartered in France