There's a New Swiping App, and It's Here to Help You Spot Fake News

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the swiping app format works far better for functions other than dating than it does for, well, dating. While we might have Tinder to thank for the format, and while it may remain just about the most popular app to employ it, there are far better opportunities out there and it's been fascinating to watch developers tinker. Now, a new one has emerged which hopes to tackle a very serious, very current issue - fake news.

Factitious was developed by American University and it works very simply - you're presented with real, published news stories and you have to swipe right if you think they're correct and left if you think they're fake. It's fairly easy to cheat, you can just type the name of the article into Google and if Snopes suddenly appears at the top of the search results, that's probably everything you need to know.

That's not really the point though, the app is designed to teach you to identify the difference even at face value. In some cases it's as easy as recognising the outlet, but if you don't know it, there are other signs. After using the app enough, American University hope that people will develop a better nose for bogus news. Additionally, gathering data on which kinds of stories trip people up more commonly could be useful in researching the kinds of fake news which need to be monitored more carefully.

If you're on Facebook a lot, you'll probably recognise some of the stories, but even someone who literally gets paid to research social media news like me didn't get everything right. Facebook and other platforms have a responsibility to regulate the news on their site, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't educate ourselves. The way much of society views and consumes news has shifted - now more than ever, headlines dominate public perception, and it's causing ever greater problems. Factitious is an amusing distraction, but it's serving a larger, greater purpose.

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