Facebook was embroiled in yet another fake news controversy in an ironical saga worthy of our times. A fake news detecting Chome plug-in called BS Detector, created by independent journalist and activist Daniel Sieradski, sparked fake news reports about the very software created to detect it. Fake news reports circulating about the BS Detector inaccurately claimed that the tool was created by Facebook.
However, according to Sieradski, the chrome plug-in was briefly blocked by the social media giant. Facebook briefly blocked access to the BS Detector on the heels of a report by TechCrunch, which has since been updated to clarify that the tool was not created by the tech giant. However, the tool was later accessible via Facebook.
"I thought it was the most meta thing I've ever seen: a fake news article about a fake news detector," said Sieradski, the Guardian reported.
A spokesperson for Facebook said, "We maintain a set of systems to help us detect and block suspicious behavior on our site. We temporarily blocked people from sharing the domain bsdetector.tech because of other abuse we have seen from the .tech top-level domain. We have corrected the error."
"This is how Facebook rolls. I expected nothing less than a quiet unblocking. It's routine for them at this point. Drop a banhammer unjustly, get called out in the press, pretend it wasn't on purpose," Sieradski said.
Sieradski said that he created BS Detector, which he claimed has over 25,000 downloads, as a counter to Mark Zuckerberg's statement about the difficulties involved in battling fake news on the social media platform. "The proliferation of misinformation has severely impacted people's ability to make informed decisions when it comes to politics and other issues," he said.
BS Detector functions by cross-referencing news links with a database containing a list of ambiguous news sources. Sieradski and a "community of open source contributors" are also working through the list to segregate legitimate news sites. The tool flashes a red warning sign upon detecting an unreliable website.
He told Motherboard, "Of course, while the process is open, this isn't the best methodology and so at this time I am reaching out to media watchdog groups that have more concrete methodologies and research to back up their classifications in hopes that we can partner."