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Combating Fake News with Metadata

| December 28, 2017 | Autumn Cuellar

One of the top challenges faced by the publishing and social media industries in 2017 was how to deal with the problem of fake news. According to a recent Freedom House report, disinformation and propaganda were used to influence elections in 18 countries between June 2016 and May 2017. Fake news is considered a threat to democracy, and thus serious efforts are underway to legitimize content and curb fake news.

Various creative endeavors have emerged, such as Userfeeds’ work to twist ranking algorithms such that genuine content is favored. However, many attempts to solve the fake news dilemma so far have focused on document metadata. Born out of society’s distrust of the news, The Trust Project, a consortium of news companies, has come up with a list of 37 trust indicators that are essentially metadata giving the consumer information about a particular story, including details about the news owner, the journalist, and the research methods used to produce the story.

Possibly the most influential group to work on content metadata for the purpose of validating the source is Schema.org, which is supported by the major search engines and by the W3C. While Schema.org has been promoting vocabularies for structured data for a few years now, in the past year the community has been refining the properties associated with news pieces, such as defining a Satirical Article, a label that could potentially be used to get around Google’s and Facebook’s ban on fake news making money off of their advertising platforms.

The incentive to use metadata as spelled out by Schema.org and the Trust Project is provided by the search engines and social media sites. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all recently committed to using the Trust Project’s trust indicators, enabling audiences to gauge the reliability of news sources. The idea is that people will be less likely to share news stories if those trust indicators are not present or are questionable and thus reduce the impact of fake news.

With Smart Content, the Quark team can help you legitimize your content with metadata, even making the process transparent to your authors. Contact us to find out how.

About the Author
Autumn Cuellar is a Technical Services Consultant for the Quark content automation team. Her first degree is in Biomedical Engineering, which led to a role as a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There Autumn co-authored a metadata specification, explored the use of ontologies for advancing biological research, and developed CellML, an XML language for describing biological models. Since leaving the academic world, Autumn has been delighted to share her enthusiasm for XML in technical and enterprise applications. At Quark, Autumn provides her XML expertise to organizations seeking to hide the XML for a better non-technical user experience.

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