Mozilla, the creators of the popular Firefox web browser, are launching a new program to counter fake news stories.
Fabricated news, made to mislead or turn a profit, is a growing problem in online communities. The U.S. intelligence community assessed that Russia used social media to propagate misinformation campaigns throughout the 2016 presidential race.
“Misinformation devalues the open web,” said Katharina Borchert, Mozilla chief innovation officer, on Wednesday, announcing their new initiative. “We see this as a threat to the fabric of our society.”
The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) will increase funding for research on misinformation, the first findings to be released later this year. The company hopes to leverage Firefox’s size and reach to get data about news browsing habits.
MITI will also tailor products to amplify actual news over fake news, expand an effort to increase digital news literacy and fund designers to work on software to provide on-the-fly visualizations of the problem.
“There will not be a quick technical fix,” said Borchert, who emphasized the importance of tackling the issue from multiple fronts.
Fake news is more than just an issue of influencing mass numbers of people. After the election, some producers of predominantly right-wing viral news stories acknowledged their work as hoaxes designed to attract advertising revenue.
Mozilla is dedicating staff to MITI, including a new senior fellow and a research team under Borchert’s purview.