WikiPedia’s founder Jimmy Wales recently unveiled Wikitribune, a free online platform offering news stories designed to counter fake news. Wales said the project will be crowdfunded, and a team of journalists and volunteers would be closely working together to prevent misleading news from spreading across the Internet.
Wikitribune to ‘Fix the News’
Wikitribune will not rely on advertisers for funding, but it will need supporters’ help. Wales said readers will be able to verify the accuracy of the articles posted there since source material will be disclosed.
The news is broken, but we’ve figured out how to fix it,
the founder of the online encyclopedia said in an add on the site’s homepage.
Wikitribune will start churning out news in 29 days. The website now plans to raise enough money to hire a dozen real journalists. Supporters are encouraged to make a $10 monthly donation, but they can donate more or less.
The so-called “fake news” – a term coined by president Donald Trump – began spreading like wildfire during the 2016 presidential campaign. The news stories generated a lot of profit and benefited certain political factions.
Charlie Beckett, a British expert in media matters at the London School of Economics, underlined that the U.S. public has lost trust in the press. Beckett, however, is concerned about Wikitribune’s outreach. He noted the users will be mostly people who are already media-literate.
Wales argues in his promotional clip that since people expected news to be completely free, online news outlets have relied on ad money to stay in the business. The situation encouraged news websites to focus on “clickbait” rather than on quality content.
Wales added that social media platforms increasingly rely on algorithms to give people the news on their liking, reinforcing their biases. This has also contributed to the spread of fake news.
Wikitribune claims the news stories will be created and vetted by professional journalists and an army of volunteers. Readers will be allowed to report inaccuracies and submit possible fixes.
Beckett thinks Wikitribune contributors could greatly benefit from the expertise of their readership, a strategy heavily used by the mainstream media. The expert said that there is no failproof method against inaccuracies. He underlined that being a U.S. citizen does not make anyone unbiased or prejudice-proof.
Google Declares War to Fake News
In the meantime, the world’s most popular search engine Google is tweaking its algorithms to remove fake news websites from search results. Google engineers said the websites will still be indexed but they will not appear on the top.
Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. broke the news earlier this week. Google has also reportedly instructed 10,000 of its employees that rate websites to pay extra attention to websites that promote low-quality content such as fabricated news and conspiracy theories. These sites in particular will be highlighted as low-content. Google will be reportedly altering algorithms for its “auto-complete” too for the same reason. For example, an offensive autocomplete such as “women are evil” will be removed. Users will be able to report offensive content via a feedback form.
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