Reflecting on Fake News, Web Regulation and Social Bots – Topic 2 Reflection

Last fortnight’s blog posts were marked much better than the fortnight’s before them, however, I still wanted to improve on my variety of sources used with this fortnight’s blog post. Last week, I was keen to focus on fake news and how to spot a fake news article – using tools provided by tech companies (Facebook and Google’s FactCheck schema) and how we can all do our part by not sharing posts that we identified as fake news – a popular topic in #UOSM2008 so I won’t draw on it in too much detail.

Figure 1: People have to decide whether to share a post or not. Originally a classic meme 💯, edited by me, by Jake Clark

Speed & Bots

After taking part in the MOOC and reading other blog posts, it became apparent that the speed that fake news articles are shared and engaged with is alarming (Mihailidis and Viotty, 2017).

After some research and commenting on Chloe’s blog post, I discovered that social bot accounts in social media sites were partly to blame for the spread of newly created fake news articles (Shao et al., 2017). This renders Google’s FactCheck schema useless as it relies on other publishers to actively rebuff the claims made, which takes time – not compatible with us ‘living in the moment’ online.

There have been attempts to identify bots on social network sites (see: Saez-Trumper, 2014), but bot creators will be able to create counter measures to these tests easily (Lazar et al. 2018).


In an article in the Guardian, Tim Berners-Lee (2018) calls for a regulatory body for the web because a few companies have such great power over our modern online lives, controlling our ideas and opinions. By introducing new ‘link quality’ factors into advertising algorithms, displaying ‘signals of source quality’ to users and minimizing personalized political ads, these companies could tackle fake news (Lazar et al. 2018). I think this will be problematic as tech companies like profit. Lazar et al. (2018) goes further, suggesting that social media platforms, could be sued by people defamed due to fake news stories, if they don’t prevent the spread of false information.

But isn’t that just companies controlling what we see even more?


My Comment on Chloe’s blog post

My comment on Jeremy’s blog post

(Word count: 325 excluding in-text citations)



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