BBC Reality Check to Focus on ‘Fake News’

REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

The BBC is to set up a dedicated fact-checking team, which they say will work to debunk ‘fake news’ that’s being frequently shared on social media.

News director of the BBC James Harding announced on Thursday that the public broadcaster will be “weighing in on the battle over lies, distortions and exaggerations”.

Under the plans, the Reality Check series of blog posts the BBC used to ‘fact-check’ claims during Britain’s referendum campaign will become permanent, with a dedicated team targeting new stories and facts being frequently shared on social media.

Reality Check results will be displayed across television, online and radio news. “The BBC can’t edit the internet, but we won’t stand aside either,” Harding said, speaking

He added: “We are working with Facebook, in particular, to see how we can be most effective. Where we see deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news, we’ll publish a Reality Check that says so.”

The Reality Check team said it won’t target Britain’s mainstream media and will instead focus on “the sort of stories that get heavily shared on Facebook, but are in fact not true and are not from authentic news sites.”

“Where we spot a story like this, News will do the journalism to verify or fact check the claims then publish an explainer or corrective piece that can be read and shared. And because the BBC is trusted it will help people to know what is the truth”, a source told i.

The emphasis on tackling ‘fake news’ is part of the corporation’s stated goal to pursue “slow news”, Mr Hardy said. The news needs to provide “expertise” and “analysis” so as to “explain the world we’re living in”, in an “age of instability” according to the BBC director.

One day after it announced its intention to fight ‘fake news’, the BBC’s news site that’s tailored for a younger audience told readers to be wary of people using the term to describe “anything they don’t like”.

Citing journalist and media consultant Jon Bernstein, the BBC Newsbeat article said Donald Trump’s use of the term is “sinister” and designed to mislead people.

The article makes reference to a press conference in which the president-elect used the term to blast a news story about unsubstantiated, unverified claims alleging that Russia had compromising information on Trump.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said friends who are experienced in diplomacy, military and intelligence “laughed” at the dossier published by the internet media company that has dominated the news this week.

The BBC frames itself and its output as politically impartial but is often accused of promoting a left wing and liberal worldview.

In October MPs on both sides of the house wrote to BBC bosses in protest after research was released showing that the corporation’s coverage surrounding Britain’s referendum on European Union membership on BBC Radio 4 was heavily biased against Leave.