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BBC increases commitment to tackling ‘fake news’ by making Reality Check a permanent fixture

By James Beeson

The BBC is set to increase its commitment to tackling the problem of fake news, according to its director of news and current affairs James Harding.

The corporation has made Reality Check, a fact-checking service set up during the EU referendum campaign, a permanent feature of its news coverage.

The service will be working with social media sites such as Facebook to combat “deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news”, according to Harding.

Speaking to staff at the BBC on Thursday, he added: “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… where we see deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news, we’ll publish a Reality Check that says so.”

“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. ”

The news comes amid growing fears about the proliferation of false information online.

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Facebook has come under fire in recent months for not doing enough to tackle the problem of false news reports.

In December, the social media network unveiled new measures that would allow users to ‘flag’ stories they believed to be take.

Earlier this week, it also announced details of its new Journalism Project as it seeks to “establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry”.

Both Facebook and the BBC are signed up to the First Draft Partner Network, a coalition of platforms and publishers that work together to provide guidance in how to verify content sourced from social media.

The BBC’s Reality Check team scrutinise stories that are heavily shared on Facebook, but are not true and not from authentic news sites. When they spot a story, the team will attempt to verify or fact check the claims it makes and then then publish an explainer or a corrective piece that can be read and shared.

This week, President-Elect Donald Trump held a press conference in which he told US broadcasting network CNN “you are fake news” after a number of salacious rumours were published about him from a dossier said to have been composed by a former British intelligence agent.

The full dossier was then published online by Buzzfeed in the US and picked up by a number of other media outlets.

The BBC comes has also said it is attempting to focus on “slow news” and greater “in-depth analysis” of the issues impacting people in the UK.

As part of this it will be creating an “intelligence unit” within its World Service, investing £290 million in the launch of 11 new language services, and focusing increasingly on the use of data in its journalism.

“Slow news means weighing in on the battle over lies, distortions and exaggerations in the news, “said Harding.

“We also need to explain what’s driving the news,” he continued. “We need slow news, news with more depth – data, investigations, analysis, expertise – to help us explain the world we’re living in.”

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