Are Credibility Standards the Answer to Misinformation on the Web?

Posted on July 26th, 2017

Image: everything possible

What if developing and defining a set of credibility standards could influence how people share and display content? The problem of misinformation online isn’t new, but we have certainly seen new focus on it lately. At a recent event designed to fight against this decimation of misinformation, a number of the digital projects saw a theme emerge: credibility standards.

The event, called Trust, Verification, Fact Checking & Beyond: MisinfoCon, is a “global movement focused on building solutions to online trust, verification, fact checking, and reader experience in the interest of addressing misinformation in all of its forms.”  They found that, as a heightened focus is put on the critical need to establish credible content, so is the need for how this credibility is communicated on digital content. And the answer that came up time and time again was credibility standards.

“Simply rating an article as “credible” is not enough; we need to understand what parts of it are credible, how the conclusion about its credibility was reached, and how to communicate that credibility effectively.Defining a set of standards for content credibility gives us a more effective way to talk about it, and, importantly, to make important decisions about how we share and display that content, regardless of what site the content appears on.”

As more and information is posted online, having both core and peripheral standards to determine credibility could certainly be a huge benefit to all involved. In fact, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the web and OpenStand affirming partner, recently announced a standardization of annotation. That is the sort of work this could build upon.  

However, also of interest to open standards supports was the WAY recognition for this need arose. It was through a collaborative workspace where the processes were open to all interested and informed parties. A place where they “hacked, designed and ideated” in a transparent way and reached a broad consensus that the need for standards existed. The are making the process “transparent and open, to help build trust about our decision making and make it open to public comment.”

This is how the best possible credibility standards can be created- making the web a better, more credibly informed space.  

If this is something you are interested in participating in, reach out to MisInfoCon here.  

Do you think standards are needed to slow, or even stop, the dissemination of misinformation on the web? Are they necessary? What should be the core standards?  Leave us your comments below!

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