Many experts, however, say the tech companies aren’t doing enough.
“[Tech companies] make money by attracting and keeping eyeballs,” says Matthew A. Baum, a public policy professor at Harvard University in Massachusetts. “They talk and talk and do very little. And the stuff they are doing is, at best, marginally effective.”
One problem, he says, is that fact-checking individual articles takes too much time to slow fast-spreading fake news. Instead, internet platforms should evaluate the credibility of websites as a whole, he says. Any content from a site that consistently publishes false stories should rank low in results lists--—and rise only if the entire site starts producing more reliable information, says Baum.
Making fake news sites harder to find is key, Baum says, because labeling stories as false doesn’t necessarily stop people from believing them.
“We tend to accept something as true the more we encounter it,” he says. So if you read a story that’s been labeled false, “you might forget it was declared bogus and just remember that you saw it.” If you see that story again later, you’re more likely to fall for it, Baum explains.
Tech companies should also be more aggressive about deleting fake accounts, according to Baum. Facebook recently deleted 30,000 such accounts, but in 2013, the company estimated that it had as many as 138 million phony accounts.