This Chrome extension helps verify fake news online

Fake news online have long been an issue now, but since the US Elections, the criticism around it has grown louder. Taking the issue in own hands, a user has created a Chrome extension, which claims flag hoax and fake news.


While Mark Zuckerberg has denied fake news and hoax to be a significant component of the content on Facebook, a user on Product Hunt has himself found a solution to tackle fake news online. Daniel Sieradski, has created a Chrome extension called BS Detector, which is claimed to identify and spot any fake news or hoax that float on the web. When a user scrolls through websites and articles on Facebook, the extension identifies articles that are from a “questionable source.” The warning appears when users scroll over the article on a feed.

Sieradski wrote on Product Hunt, “I built this in about an hour yesterday after reading Zuck’s BS about not being able to flag fake news sites. Of course you can. It just takes having a spine to call out nonsense. This is just a proof of concept at this point, but it works well enough.”

In order for the system to flag the target articles, he compiled a list of well-known hoax sites, instead of developing an algorithm to warn users about individual articles. He said the sites run across the political spectrum. Users can submit requests to modify those settings on Github. “I’ve compiled a list of domains that are well-known sources of fake news, conspiracy theory, innuendo, and unsourced claims. The domains cover the political spectrum from left to right and I have done my absolute best to be impartial in my selections,” he said.

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Since the US presidential elections, the criticism against Facebook‘s lack of scrutiny toward online hoaxes has grown louder. Concerned over the spread of fake news on the social network, the US President Barack Obama had also criticized Facebook, saying fake stories on social networks are spreading lies this election. Speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at University of Michigan, Obama said, “The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal and people if they just repeat attacks enough and outright lies over and over again.” ALSO READ: US President Barack Obama criticized Facebook of spreading fake stories

“As long as it’s on Facebook, and people can see it, as long as it’s on social media, people start believing it, and it creates this dust cloud of nonsense,” he told the gathering. A recent BuzzFeed investigation found that 38 percent of posts shared from three large right-wing politics pages on Facebook included “false or misleading information.”

In retaliation, three days ago, Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook to clear the air of fake news that was thickening around the social media. He spoke about how Facebook believes in giving each individual a voice, and the liberty to project their opinions. He wrote, “After the election, many people are asking whether fake news contributed to the result, and what our responsibility is to prevent fake news from spreading. These are very important questions and I care deeply about getting them right. I want to do my best to explain what we know here.” ALSO READ: Mark Zuckerberg again denies that Facebook helped Donald Trump win US elections

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

However, he said, “ we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news. We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here. We have made progress, and we will continue to work on this to improve further.” ALSO READ: Mark Zuckerberg’s Pinterest account hacked again

Consequently, concerned about the perennial accusations of fake news on its platform. Facebook has been working on tackling the issue for a while now. According to a report last month, a network of more than 30 international companies and organizations was formed in an effort to filter out fake news stories and to improve the quality of information found online. Among the companies that joined, Facebook and Twitter were members of the network. Media houses like New York Times and CNN were also part of the coalition.

In a similar move last month, Google also introduced a new ‘fact-check’ tag, to categorize stories on its Google News service based on accuracy and facts.  In order to make its service more reliable, the new tag differentiates verified stories from the rest. Traditionally, the service has different labels for articles which are categorized into In-Depth, Opinion, Wikipedia, and Highly-cited, among others.

Image Credits: Daniel Sieradski, Product Hunt

  • Published Date: November 16, 2016 5:15 PM IST
  • Updated Date: November 16, 2016 5:44 PM IST