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Students only needed 36 hours to solve Facebook's fake news problem

Facebook has been struggling to keep fake news




stories from infiltrating its trending sections and off people's newsfeeds. But it turns out all the social media giant had to do was work with some student programmers who found away to sniff out fake news sites in just 36 ho.
SEE ALSO: It’s time to stop blaming Facebook for fake news
The group of four students, including Nabanita De, who spoke to Mashable Friday, buckled down during a three-day hackathon event at Princeton University last week. They came up with a Chrome browser extension appropriately called FiB.
De said the idea struck her as she was on the bus to Princeton from UMass Amherst, where she is a grad student. The 22-year-old spoke with her hackathon teammates Anant Goel, 18, Qinglin Chen, 20, and Mark Craft, 19, about finding a way to tackle fake information that spreads through Facebook.
After a 36-hour whirlwind, the team had come up with its fake news solution. The extension goes through your feed and verifies the sources of news stories, images and other links. The posts are tagged with a "trust score" of either "verified" or "not verified" to give users a sense of whether a post is B.S. or legit. The Washington Post showed how the extension works by using advanced web scraping to find links, posts and images that are sent to AI that goes through a collection of API calls.

Since they released the tool, De said there have been something close to 50,000 downloads. "Servers are crashing because they can't handle so much," she said.  The group has left all its code open and free and De said she hopes others who have been working on the Facebook issue for a lot longer will reach out. The team is all about having everything out in the open.

De said the team hasn't been in touch with Facebook, but she'd be up for better integration with the platform.

Also this week, other Chrome extensions including the "B.S. Detector" and the "Fake News Alert" debuted as tools in the ongoing effort to fight fake Facebook stories. Maybe Facebook will jump on some of these, since it doesn't seem to have quite figured out how to handle the problem.

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