How I Solved Fake News on Facebook

Society today likes headlines… they’re short, easy to consume, and easy to share. However, as I’m sure many of you have experienced first hand, one of the downside of this culture is the massive surge of click-bait posts or outright fake news articles.

When we take a conversation, or article of significant importance, slap a controversial picture on it, and simplify it’s entire stance down to a sentence we do nothing but harm the notions of critical thinking, constructive debate, and informed decision. So why is it then that we see so much of this style of information exchange popping up in our news feeds? Many argue Facebook’s algorithms are to blame, other’s will put the blame on society as a whole gradually shifting towards thoughtlessness and passivity. I like to consider myself a proactive individual though and therefore place the blame on my own inability to filter out the false content that passes through my feed. The benefit of this proactive thinking is knowing that if I want to change it I have to take action myself… and that’s exactly what I did.

Today I’m going to share with you what I did to ensure my Facebook feed remains clear of news and articles with a high chance of being false or misleading. It’s a fairly simple process that starts with a chrome extension called Social Fixer (you can download it for Chrome here). Social Fixer is a great tool for taking control of a number of different aspects of your Facebook feed but the thing I’m most interested in are its filters. While I’m sure there exists extensions with the pure purpose of filtering out fake news, the customization of Social Fixer, it’s other features, and the fact that it hides the potentially fake post behind a warning thus allowing you to view said post with a critical eye makes it a great option.

Once Social Fixer is Installed, refresh your Facebook page and you should see a new wrench icon in the top right of the page. Click on it and select “Social Fixer Options

Social Fixer’s Main Menu

Once the window opens up, navigate to the “Filters” tab. In this tab you’ll see lots of options for pre-built filters to help remove things like posts with spoilers or other people’s Facebook memories. What we’re going for though is a new filter. Go ahead and select “Create a New Filter”. Once here it’s easy to be a little overwhelmed with all of the available options but don’t worry I’ve done all the work for you. Close to the bottom you’ll see a section called “Show Advanced Code” make sure it’s expanded. Below is an example from another filter I did for politically based posts.

New Filter Dialog

Here’s the easy part, a simple decision needs to be made by you. How strict do you want this filter to be? Do you want to filter out only known fake news publishers but leave in sites that sometimes post click-bait articles and the like (We’ll call this the standard filter)? Or rid your feed of all fake and annoying content (we’ll call this the strict filter)? The benefit of the advanced code section is I can write the filter’s code, then you can copy/paste it in and all the correct settings will be set automatically. So if its the standard filter you’d like then copy paste the following into the advanced code section making sure to replace what’s already there. (if you select and delete the existing code before pasting, the new filter page will close. Just select the existing code and paste over it to avoid this)

{
"actions": [
{
"action": "hide",
"custom_note": "Someone Posted a Potentially Fake News Article... Click Here to View",
"show_note": true
}
],
"added_on": 1478801168846,
"description": "Filter For Fake news (Doesn't Includes Sites known to use click bait)",
"enabled": true,
"match": "ALL",
"rules": [
{
"condition": {
"text": "100PercentFedUp\\.com|EnduringVision\\.com|PakAlertPress\\.com|21stCenturyWire\\.com|FPRNradio\\.com|PoliticalBlindSpot\\.com|70news\\.wordpress.com|PoliticalEars\\.com|Abcnews\\.com\\.co|GeoEngineeringWatch\\.org|Politicalo|ActivistPost\\.com|PoliticusUSA|GovtSlaves\\.info|PrisonPlanet\\.com|AmericanNews\\.com|GulagBound\\.com|PrisonPlanet\\.tv |HangTheBankers\\.com|Associated Media Coverage|HumansAreFree\\.com|ProjectVeritas|BeforeItsNews\\.com|Being Liberal|IfYouOnlyNews|React 365|BigAmericanNews\\.com|Indecision Forever|RealFarmacy\\.com|BigPZone\\.com|RealNewsRightNow\\.com|InfoWars|RedFlagNews\\.com|BizPac Review|Infowars\\.com|Blue Nation Review|IntelliHub\\.com|Breitbart|Inquisitr\\.com|RileNews\\.com|JonesReport\\.com|Satira Tribune|LewRockwell\\.com|Liberal America|The Blaze|Chronicle\\.su|LibertyTalk\\.fm|CivicTribune\\.com|LibertyUnyielding|LibertyVideos\\.org|CoastToCoastAM\\.com|LMR/LibertyMovementRadio\\.com|MediaMass\\.net|The Reporterz|ConsciousLifeNews\\.com|MegynKelly\\.us|The Stately Harold|ConservativeOutfitters\\.com|MSNBC\\.com\\.co|TheDailySheeple\\.com|ConspiracyWire|WideAwakeAmerica\\.com|MSNBC\\.website|TheNewsNerd\\.com|CountdownToZeroTime\\.com|TheRunDownLive\\.com|CounterPsyOps\\.com|National Report|TheUsPatriot\\.com|NationalReport\\.net|TruthFrequencyRadio\\.com|CreamBMP\\.com|NaturalNews\\.com|DailyBuzzLive\\.com|NC Scooper|UnconfirmedSources\\.com|DailyCurrant\\.com|NCT|New Century Times|News Examiner|USA Supreme|Daily Wire|News-Hound\\.com|US\\.Blasting\\.News|DCClothesLine\\.com|NewsBiscuit\\.com|DCGazette\\.com|Newslo|VeteransToday\\.com|DerfMagazine\\.com|NewsMutiny\\.com|Disclose\\.tv|Newswatch 28|WakingUpWisconsin\\.com|DrudgeReport\\.com\\.co|Newswatch 33|Winning Democrats|NewsWire-24\\.com|WitScience\\.org|DuhProgressive\\.com|NoDisInfo\\.com|World Net Daily|Embols\\.com|Now8News|Empire Herald|NowTheEndBegins\\.com|WorldTruth\\.tv|Empire News|ZeroHedge|EmpireNews\\.com|Endingthefed\\.com
"
},
"match_partial_words": false,
"operator": "contains",
"target": "any"
}
],
"stop_on_match": false,
"title": "Fake News Filter 1.0",
"updated_on": 1478802763052
}

If you’re looking to use the strict filter paste in the following code.

{
"actions": [
{
"action": "hide",
"custom_note": "Someone Posted a Potentially Fake News Article... Click Here to View",
"show_note": true
}
],
"added_on": 1480291742924,
"description": "Strict Filter For Fake news (Includes Sites known to use click bait)",
"enabled": true,
"match": "ALL",
"rules": [
{
"condition": {
"text": "100PercentFedUp\\.com|EnduringVision\\.com|PakAlertPress\\.com|21stCenturyWire\\.com|FPRNradio\\.com|PoliticalBlindSpot\\.com|70news\\.wordpress\\.com|The Free Thought Project|PoliticalEars\\.com|Abcnews\\.com\\.co|GeoEngineeringWatch\\.org|Politicalo|ActivistPost\\.com|PoliticusUSA|Addicting Info|GovtSlaves\\.info|PrisonPlanet\\.com|AmericanNews\\.com|GulagBound\\.com|PrisonPlanet\\.tv |AnonNews\\.co|HangTheBankers\\.com|Associated Media Coverage|HumansAreFree\\.com|ProjectVeritas|BeforeItsNews\\.com|Being Liberal|IfYouOnlyNews|React 365|BigAmericanNews\\.com|Indecision Forever|RealFarmacy\\.com|BigPZone\\.com|RealNewsRightNow\\.com|Bipartisan Report|InfoWars|RedFlagNews\\.com|BizPac Review|Infowars\\.com|Red State|Blue Nation Review|IntelliHub\\.com|Breitbart|Inquisitr\\.com|RileNews\\.com|JonesReport\\.com|Satira Tribune|LewRockwell\\.com|Liberal America|The Blaze|Chronicle\\.su|LibertyTalk\\.fm|The Free Thought Project|CivicTribune\\.com|LibertyUnyielding|LibertyVideos\\.org|CoastToCoastAM\\.com|LMR/LibertyMovementRadio\\.com|The Other 98%|CollectiveEvolution|MediaMass\\.net|The Reporterz|ConsciousLifeNews\\.com|MegynKelly\\.us|The Stately Harold|ConservativeOutfitters\\.com|MSNBC\\.com\\.co|TheDailySheeple\\.com|ConspiracyWire|WideAwakeAmerica\\.com|MSNBC\\.website|TheNewsNerd\\.com|CountdownToZeroTime\\.com|TheRunDownLive\\.com|CounterPsyOps\\.com|National Report|TheUsPatriot\\.com|NationalReport\\.net|TruthFrequencyRadio\\.com|CreamBMP\\.com|NaturalNews\\.com|Twitchy\\.com|DailyBuzzLive\\.com|NC Scooper|UnconfirmedSources\\.com|DailyCurrant\\.com|NCT|New Century Times|News Examiner|USA Supreme|Daily Wire|News-Hound\\.com|US\\.Blasting\\.News|DCClothesLine\\.com|NewsBiscuit\\.com|US Uncut|DCGazette\\.com|Newslo|VeteransToday\\.com|DerfMagazine\\.com|NewsMutiny\\.com|Disclose\\.tv|Newswatch 28|WakingUpWisconsin\\.com|DrudgeReport\\.com.co|Newswatch 33|Winning Democrats|NewsWire-24\\.com|WitScience\\.org|DuhProgressive\\.com|NoDisInfo\\.com|World Net Daily|Embols\\.com|Now8News|Empire Herald|NowTheEndBegins\\.com|WorldTruth\\.tv|Empire News|Occupy Democrats|ZeroHedge|EmpireNews\\.com|Endingthefed\\.com"
},
"match_partial_words": false,
"operator": "contains",
"target": "any"
}
],
"stop_on_match": false,
"title": "Fake News + Click Bait Filter 1.0",
"updated_on": 1480292166096
}

Once you’ve got your filter of choice pasted in simply select “Done Editing Filter” and your new filter will be good to go! If, as you scroll through your feed, Social Fixer comes across a post that matches the filter it will replace it with a small banner informing you that “Someone Posted a Potentially Fake News Article… Click Here to View”. If you choose to view the post you can do so by clicking the banner. The difference though is now you’re approaching it with the critical mindset needed to view such articles. Instead of passively accepting the article, you understand it came from a source known to post false information and therefore should be treated with higher scrutiny.

Obviously the chances of this filter working 100% of the time are slim but I’ve had good success with it so far. More importantly though, if enough people can begin using filters like this, maybe we, as the frustrated content consumers, can begin to starve those who mislead others of the clicks they live for and our news feeds can get back to normal.


A little more info on the filters.

The filter you’re using looks for posts whose content contains keywords (in this case mostly web address) that are known to produce misleading or false content. These keywords were sourced from a list of false/misleading news sites originally put together by Melissa Zimdars, a media professor at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. Each entry in the list is given a ranking to determine the severity of its contents falseness from a 1 being regularly spreading false or misleading content, to a 4 being false but satirical content like the Onion. Personally I don’t consider satire to be purposefully misleading so both the standard and strict filters do not filter out that content. Both filters remove content rated 1 and 2 but the difference between them is only the strict filter will remove content rated 3 which are sites known to post click-bait style articles. If you’d like to learn more about Professor Zimdars’ list I’d encourage you to read this article about it from the Daily Dot by Andrew Couts.

I hope this write up helps you to clean up your Facebook feed and if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Thanks for reading!
-Ian

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