It is the responsibility of each author to verify a story before publishing it and avoid fake news? This became painfully obvious during the recent US Presidential Election. Social media is a way of life in today's society. We all turn to it to socialize, keep in touch with friends and family and often as a source for current events.

Did fake news influence the election?

During the election, Facebook news feeds were filled with various posts that simply weren't verified or accurate. One such post claimed the Pope was supporting Trump.

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Another claimed a protester was paid $3,500 to protest at a Trump Rally. While neither of these were true, folks questioned how these fake news stories and many others may have influenced the outcome of the election. This has led to a much needed fake news crackdown.

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, sees the delicate balance that must be reached. People need to be able to express their opinions but news articles need to be true and accurate. In an effort to lead the crackdown, Facebook is looking at the option of having a third-party fact checker look over the posts on the site.

Bloomberg reports that another way Facebook could enforce this is to reset their algorithms to have articles that have been run through a site such as FactCheck.org post next to like articles that have not, including the trending topics. Google made the commitment to join the fake news crackdown a month ago. They plan to begin acknowledging news articles that have indeed been fact-checked so the reader knows the story is reported accurately.

The "gray area"

The problem area in fact-checking articles is where the story has a degree of truth but is not exactly accurate.

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Prior to the election a story came out regarding the Clinton family when they left the White House after Bill Clinton's presidency. It accused them of removing furnishings. They eventually returned some items and paid the US Government for some presents they received. Now, this story was reported at the time it happened but the article prior to the election was recent, therefore a gray area. While the source was mostly true, it was definitely outdated. As for whether or not the items were taken without permission, Kiely from FactChecker.org says, “that's a judgment call." Under the guidelines, this article would not have been published before our last election.

The answers may not always be exactly clear but the responsibility is. When authoring an article the writer is solely accountable for the content. Reporting questionable news hurts not only the reputation of the writer, but also the online publication they are writing for.