Mozilla decides to go after 'fake news'

The foundation will launch a 'comprehensive' assault on misinformation, once it works out exactly how to do it.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Mozilla launched yet another side project by deciding it will go after misinformation on the internet, and has put out a call for partners and users to help decide how best to go about it.

Dubbed the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI), Mozilla chief innovation officer Katharina Borchert said in a blog post the spread of so-called "fake news" was not beneficial to the internet.

"The impact of misinformation on our society is one of the most divisive, fraught, and important topics of our day. Misinformation depletes transparency and sows discord, erodes participation and trust, and saps the web's public benefit," she wrote.

"In short: It makes the internet less healthy. As a result, the internet's ability to power democratic society suffers greatly."

At this point though, Mozilla has no concrete plan, and will release research into misinformation later in the year based on user browsing data gathered during the 2016 US presidential election.

The foundation will also create a "web literacy curriculum", work with media organisations, and use its Pocket, Focus, and Coral products in its battle against fake news.

In defending Mozilla's entry into the fight, Borchert said misinformation went against "nearly every tenet" of its Mozilla Manifesto.

"Mozilla has a long history of putting community and principles first, and devoting resources to urgent issues -- our Firefox browser is just one example," she said. "Mozilla is committed to building tolerance rather than hate, and building technology that can protect individuals and the web."

In March, Tim Berners-Lee called on the big internet companies to combat the abundance of "fake news" on their respective platforms.

"It's too easy for misinformation to spread on the web," he wrote.

Last week, Mozilla released Send, a free tool for sharing files that delete from the server once a single download is complete.

Send supports files up to 1GB in size, and they are removed after the first download is complete, or after 24 hours.

On Wednesday, Mozilla released Firefox 55, the first desktop browser to support WebVR, but only supported on Windows.

The latest update to Firefox now features click-to-run functionality for Flash, and makes sure 64-bit Windows users get the 64-bit version of the browser.


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