Facebook Might Not Detect Fake News, But This Chrome Extension Will

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As Facebook continues to roil over the idea that fake news on the social network could have had any effect on the U.S. presidential election, one Chrome extension is stepping in.

The "B.S. Detector" Chrome extension, a new project released on Tuesday, claims to identify and flag fake news online. The extension identifies articles on Facebook that are from a "questionable source." The warning appears when users scroll over the article on a feed.

The creator of the extension, Daniel Sieradski, said on Product Hunt that he compiled a list of well-known hoax sites that the extension flags (rather than developing an algorithm to warn users about individual articles). He said the sites run across the political spectrum. Users can submit requests to modify those settings on Github.

"I built this in about an hour yesterday after reading BS about not being able to flag fake news sites. Of course you can. It just takes having a spine to call out nonsense," Sieradski wrote. "This is just a proof of concept at this point, but it works well enough."

The extension is a useful one for Facebook, where articles from the New York Times appear next to hoaxes from InfoWars with no distinction between them on Facebook's news feed. It'll be even more useful if the hyper-partisan Facebook users who are most susceptible to Facebook hoaxes actually download the extension. In the week since the U.S. presidential election, criticism against Facebook's lack of scrutiny toward online hoaxes has grown louder.

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— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) November 14, 2016 Gizmodo on Monday reported that Facebook had considered implementing tools that would fight hoaxes on its network, but abandoned the project over fear of appearing politically biased. Facebook denied that claim.

On Tuesday, Facebook said it would ban fake news sites from participating in its ad network — a move similar to Google's solution to fake search results.