Mozilla looks to tackle misinformation online

The company known for its Firefox browser has created the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative

Mozilla, the company known for its free Firefox Internet browser, is taking aim at misinformation online.

Dubbed the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative (MITI) the company stated in a blog post this is intended to create “a comprehensive effort to keep the Internet credible and healthy.”

The company aims to bring resources including manpower, funding and programming to MITI.

“The impact of misinformation on our society is one of the most divisive, fraught, and important topics of our day,” adds the blog post.

“Misinformation depletes transparency and sows discord, erodes participation and trust, and saps the web’s public benefit. In short: it makes the Internet less healthy.”

The company has also created an open source information page called the Internet Health Report.

The blog post suggests a hypothetical scenario that has become all too real in the the online world: one where there is a researched story posted online and another that is false or misleading, but designed to mimic real news.

“The first article — designed to inform — receives limited attention. The second article — designed for virality — accumulates shares. It exploits cognitive bias, belief echos, and algorithmic filter bubbles. It percolates across the Internet, spreading misinformation,” the post adds.

Mozilla states that this type of misleading information has convinced millions of people on the Internet into believing fake stories.

“So we’re drawing on the unique depth and breadth of the Mozilla Network — from journalists and technologists to policymakers and scientists — to build functional products, research, and community-based solutions.”

Using four key principles, MITI will focus on ways to tackle this issue:

Product: Mozilla will work with technologists and artists to tackle this and the company says it will double down on existing products, many of which are open-source.

Literacy: The company wants to increase literacy with online users.

“Mozilla will develop a web literacy curriculum that addresses misinformation, and will continue investing in existing projects like the Mission: Information teaching kit.

Research: The company intends to research and then release information on how fake news affects users’ online experience.

Creative Interventions: Mozilla intends to put money into projects that combat misinformation online.

The company says it will field and fund these projects and that, “It’s an opportunity to apply emerging technology to one of today’s most pressing issues.”

“More than ever, we need a network of people and organizations devoted to understanding, and combatting, misinformation online. The health of the Internet — and our societies — depends on it,” the blog post concludes.

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