UK charity Full Fact is checking for fake news on Facebook, but what is fake news and how can you stop it?

“If you get stabbed, open a tampon and whack it in the wound. The tampon will swell, creating pressure on the wound and will stop the bleeding.” This claim has had 5.8K likes on Facebook, and has been shared 60,000 times, so it must be true, right? Wrong!

Full Fact is one of a number of fact-checking organisations that are helping Facebook to expose false facts and fake news, and it asked first aid experts whether putting a tampon in a wound would really work. It turns out it wouldn’t. “There’s no evidence that it would work, and it could potentially hurt the person more if there’s something still in the wound. What you should do is put pressure on the wound with something like a bandage, towel, or even a piece of clothing, and call 999.”

What’s the problem with fake news?  

According to BuzzFeed, 50 of the biggest fake news stories in 2018 led to 22 million shares, reactions and comments on Facebook. While some people might have realised that these “news” stories were fake, many would have believed them to be true, meaning that false and potentially harmful information is spreading far and wide. If a story has been shared thousands, if not millions, of times, how would you know whether it’s true or not?

So, how do you know if a social media post is fake?

This is why organisations like Full Fact are so important. Full Fact is an independent fact-checking charity that works with government departments and experts to stop the spread of misinformation and fake news on Facebook and elsewhere. But it doesn’t mean that everything it checks is untrue. Check out these three surprising statements that have been fact-checked by Full Fact:

  1. Akala said: It’s significantly more expensive to send a child to prison than it is to send them to Eton. Full Fact says: Correct. In 2016/17 the average annual price per place for children in custody ranged from £76,000 to £210,000. The full annual fee to send a child to Eton in 2018/19 is just over £40,000.
  2. The governor of the Bank of England said: 15 million jobs in the UK could be stolen by robots. Full Fact says: That’s one way of putting it. Mark Carney quoted an estimate that 15 million jobs in the UK could be automated over the next few decades. In the past, new technology has created new types of work and hasn’t caused mass unemployment in the long run.
  3. The former UK Prime Minister Theresa May said: If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go on to university. Full Fact says: This is correct for England, using research for university joiners in 2010 and 2011 and looking at the least well-off students.
  4. What can you do to stop the spread of fake news? Full Fact has created a simple toolkit to help you make up your own mind about the truthfulness of stories you see online: Full Fact is a British charity, but it also lists international fact-checking organisations that are doing the same thing. If you want to stop the spread of fake news and be news-savvy, then this is a good place to start.

Read more about this:

BuzzFeed: These are 50 of the biggest fake news hits on Facebook In 2018

Full Fact: About

Dr Elvira Perez Vallejo: Can we trust what we see online?