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BBC establishes dedicated team to debunk fake Facebook & Twitter stories

The BBC is to establish a permanent Reality Check team tasked with debunking fake news as the broadcaster seeks to cement its role as a bastion of probity in a world deluged by misleading and manifestly false ‘news’ items on the web.

Spearheaded by BBC News director James Harding the initiative will see a group of fact checkers probe outlandish tales for accuracy before giving their own verdicts for readers to make an informed judgement call on that day’s social media stories.

Harding remarked: “The BBC can’t edit the internet, but we won’t stand aside either. We will fact check the most popular outliers on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

“We are working with Facebook, in particular, to see how we can be most effective. Where we see deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news, we’ll publish a Reality Check that says so.

“And we want Reality Check to be more than a public service, we want it to be hugely popular. We will aim to use styles and formats – online, on TV and on radio – that ensure the facts are more fascinating and grabby than the falsehoods.”

In recent months, social media users have been bombarded by fictitious reports purporting to be news concerning the UK’s Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as global politics becomes more unpredictable and extreme.

Such ‘clickbait’ is written solely for the purpose of luring in readers to inflate advertising revenue, something Facebook has struggled to eradicate.

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