In the age of fake news, it’s hard to decide whom to trust and where to get our news from. It’s a big challenge for everyone. Recently, I’ve been working with a client where one of my tasks was to do a research on this topic – yes, sometimes I do non-SharePoint projects, too. The goal of this post is to summarize the information and recommendations I’ve found.
There are some great sources on the web, which help to spot the fake news and check the truth. One of the basic resources is this infographic: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174
As a rule, we need critical thinking to discern the truth from lies, without rushing to click a link only because it has an eye-catching headline. How can technology help us in our quest for real, trustworthy news?
The approach to check facts should include doing research into which sources the news comes from, and how reputable and credible the sources are. Reading beyond the attention-grabbing titles and first few paragraphs of an article will give us more context.
Technology can assist us in our search; however, we need to bear in mind that technology platforms such as Twitter and Facebook helped spread fake news: https://thebulletin.org/technology-helped-fake-news-now-technology-needs-stop-it11285. Back in 2017 Facebook, Twitter and Google had to report to the US Congress on how they were planning to combat the spreading of fake news on their sites. Misinformation can ruin reputations, influence public opinion without strong evidence, and make-or-break organizations relying heavily on advertising revenue. Therefore, having a solid fact-checking system in place is a priority for any type of organization. In other words, organizations must become fact-check-proof if they want to have a good reputation and gain the trust of their users.
There are still some open questions:
- How to check the author?
- How to check the source’s authority?
- How to “read beyond”?
All of these questions go back to search. Identify the author, look for news about the source, check Wikipedia, find related news, etc. Look at a number of sources with a good reputation that also corroborate the story in question.
A great website to start at is https://www.factcheck.org/search/
This article also demonstrates some good resources: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/true-5-factchecking-websites/
The challenge now is to present results of fact-checking research in a way that is compelling, effective and easily shareable.
Technology tools can potentially help us spot news stories that don’t fit certain parameters. Using the correct search technology, you can index data using specific metadata.
Displaying relevant and trustworthy results is essential for a positive information discovery experience.
There is also a clear role for A.I. technology to offer more targeted and more accurate results.
How Search Can Support Fact-Checking
This is not an easy topic because even the major news agencies struggle with it. But if used well, search can be of help.
In SharePoint, for example, Search administrators can customize features to produce high quality and highly relevant search results. Tagging and indexing data correctly will ensure that only credible information is rendered during a search. Enterprise search can have low buy-in among its users because it is not as intuitive as web search. However, we can solve this by tailoring the user experience with contextual data. Ad hoc customization can also include filtering out bot-produced content, making the fact-checking process much faster and more efficient.
Another way to enhance search results is to score the information on the basis of the credibility of sources. For example, only articles from reputable magazines and websites are rendered in the results or presented as top results, filtering out low-scoring sources. Configuring authoritative sources in SharePoint might be also of help. Involving A.I. can greatly improve the search experience and to automate processes.
Fact-checking and search are becoming more and more important in our jobs as well: we have to be sure the sources we use are authoritative.