PHOENIX — Arizona State University’s journalism school has partnered with Facebook on a project to increase news literacy and combat false news.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication launched a news laboratory Tuesday that will work with news organizations to fight the proliferation of misinformation.
The project is funded by Facebook, which has come under criticism for its handling of fake articles that circulated widely on many social media platforms during the presidential election last year. Facebook recently launched a notification on its site that helps users spot false news.
It’s born out of a meeting earlier this year of news literacy experts from around the world who gathered to discuss how to better educate the public on distinguishing between false and accurate news.
At the Cronkite school, professors and students will run a lab that will work with news organizations and communities around the country.
“I think the elections not only in the United States but also in England, in other places, have put a focus on the reach and power of completely fabricated stories. And those of us who work in the news literacy arena, we’re having a crisis point,” said Eric Newton, the lab’s co-founder.
Newton gave the example of a Phoenix rally earlier this year in which a photo of a massive crowd circulated and was falsely reported as depicting spectators waiting for President Donald Trump. The photo was of a crowd in 2016 waiting to celebrate the Cleveland Cavaliers, which had just won an NBA championship.
Newton says the lab at the Cronkite school will focus on collaborating with teachers, librarians and news organizations to find best practices for not only detecting false news but finding credible sources. The first major organization that the lab is partnering with is McClatchy, a major publisher with 30 media companies.
The move follows a partnership Facebook announced in December with several news organizations — including The Associated Press — to fact check stories posted on the social media network that a large number of people flag as possibly fake.