Rabat – The fake news phenomena is reaching new heights. After allegedly interfering with the 2016 United States presidential election, Facebook is taking new measures to fight this scourge by asking its users to identify “reliable” news sources.
After months of criticism and accusations of helping the propagation of fake news, Facebook is taking what can be considered an umpteenth measure against this 21st-century phenomenon.
According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today.” For the founder of Facebook, “social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.” In this sense, he believes that “it’s important that [Facebook’s] News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.”
For 2018, Zuckerberg’s major mission is to “make sure that news you see, while less overall, is high quality.” In a Facebook post published on his official page, the CEO said that the company’s product teams will prioritize articles and sources that are “trustworthy, informative, and local.”
The question remains how Facebook will decide what news sources meet these criteria? According to Zuckerberg, the answer to this “hard question” is in the hands of the Facebook community, which will be entrusted to “determine what sources are broadly trusted.”
“We will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source,” explained the CEO, adding that this update will not change the amount of news published on Facebook.
“It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community,” added Zuckerberg.
Morocco Versus Fake News
Morocco is also picking up the fight against fake news in the form of a draft law. According to a source quoted by Moroccan news outlet Telquel, “the Ministry of Culture and Communication is currently finalizing a draft law sanctioning the diffusion of fake news.”
But for Zakaria Choukrallah, journalist and editor in chief of Telquel.ma, the best way to fight fake news is “not to add a new law.”
“The current legislation is sufficient,” he told Morocco World News.
In fact, Morocco’s press law already sanctions the publishing of fake news. “Article 72 of the Press Code sanctions the dissemination of false news that may be detrimental to the State, the public order or the morale of the armed forces, while Articles 106 and 108 punish false news liable to harm individuals,” explains the news website.
Choukrallah believes that the best way to face this scourge is to “teach people how to identify fake news themselves and to become more critical of what they read, hear or see.”
In this respect, “everyone, not just reporters, must acquire some basic [journalism] notions.” For Choukrallah, “the answer is critical thinking and analytic reflexes.”
“Ask yourself whether the source of any news is reliable before sharing it. In case of any doubt, don’t,” says the journalist. He added that readers should learn how to differentiate between news and opinions, find additional sources to cross-check, and “read people you don’t necessarily agree with.”
For Choukrallah, “the reporter’s classic bottom-up relationship with the reader is over.” Today, this relationship is “direct and immediate — everyone ought to know some notions of journalism.”