Inaccurate or misleading information on the Internet is nothing new, but the number of “fake news” sites and false or misleading articles being shared on social media has skyrocketed in recent months. Last week, an article that President Obama issued an executive order banning fake news sites was itself a fake news story.

Facebook started using third party fact checkers. Google News now employs labels indicating that posts have been “fact checked”.  This fact checking must be harmonized with First Amendment rights, including criticism and parody. There is also an individual responsibility for both professional and personal accounts. For example, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at Merrimack College Melissa Zimdars has provided her students with a guide to help detect fake news sites.

The proliferation of fake news requires diligence. Organizational risks resulting from the surge in fake news include:

  • reliance on false or misleading information in making business or operational decisions
  • becoming an actual subject of a fake news story and
  • having your online advertisements appear on fake news sites

Read the Snopes article on the false fake news ban story here. Professor Zimdars’ guide for detecting fake news sites is available here. Contact us at Ossian Law P.C. regarding any information technology law matter.

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