Labeling Controversial and Fake News as "Controversial"

WisTex's picture

One thing that we have been dealing with, which this recent U.S. election highlighted, is the propagantion of fake news, or news that has disputed facts. It is obviously a real problem, in more than one way.

  1. False information can be used to influence decisions and voters to make decisions that are not in their best interest or to give undue advantage or a person or group.
  2. Propagators of the fake or false information will, in turn, try to discredit accurate information, sometimes claiming the accurate information is fake news.
  3. And other media outlets and authors will pick and choose facts to suit their agenda, ignoring anything thet conflicts with their agenda.
  4. Without first hand knowledge of the subject, it is sometimes hard to determine what is true and what is not.

This means we have to look at the situation from two perspective:

  1. Readers want accurate information, and identifying fake or false news is in the public interest.
  2. Authors are sometime falsely accussed of propagating false information by those propagating false information.

To deal with this situation, we are considering the following solutions for the Digital Authorship content platform.

  1. Clearly labelling satire and humor as "Satire" so it is not mistaken for real news.
  2. Labeling disputed content as "controversial" to alert the user that the information is disputed and may not be accurate.
  3. Content containing things that are proven false in an undisputable way will be labeled as "disputed."
  4. People are able to look at the source of the news or content and determine if they trust the source.

What do you think of this method of classifying content?

WisTex's picture

Problems with Deleting Them

There actually are a couple of problems with simply deleting them:

  1. Unless we have evidence one way or another, we are liable to be tricked as well by convincing arguments. We could accidentally be tricked into deleting the accurate information.
  2. It changes our legal status from a platform to a more editorial role, which affects our liability and duties.
  3. Instead of removing it from people's profiles, it's actually better if the profile shows a lot of " controversial" or "disputed" tags to give readers an idea of the author's reputation.
  4. "Controversial" and "disputed" tags allow people to make up their own minds.

Keep in mind, we will still delete anything that is against our terms of service, such as hate speech, anything promoting violence, or any sexual or explicit content, etc.. The above guidelines more refer to news articles and blog posts where the facts are disputed or where a significant number of people are divided on the topic.

Scott M. Stolz
Complete Hosting Guide, Editor-in-Chief
WisTex, Director & CEO