When clicking on it, the icon provides a description of the source of the information found on Facebook, how old the story is and the web domain where it is held.
It was launched in the USA in April and has been gradually working its way across English-speaking countries – the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand – and later spreading to Spanish-speaking nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and México.
This week, the social media giant announced it was now available for users in Spain, France, Italy and Germany.
In an age where more information is available to the public than ever before, but where uncertainty about how true it is has never been greater, the Active Context button is a vital tool to prevent urban myths going viral.
A frequent one, seen every year in the run-up to November in the UK, is that British Muslims want to ban the symbol of the poppy worn in remembrance of World War I and II victims – but the ‘fake news’ filter will show it is not true; in fact, the Royal British Legion has confirmed it is totally fabricated and recalls that Muslims from the British colonies, among other cultures and religious followers, actually fought for Britain in both wars.
The filter will enable users to see whether reports or claims come from ad hoc sites specifically set up to broadcast invented stories in order to sway public opinion, and can also check other publications recently shared from the same source and which of their Facebook friends have done so.
In Spain, the Active Context button is likely to be useful for filtering out hoaxes, such as those which the National Police regularly report on via their sites – fake special offers and claims of ‘privileged information’ about imminent terrorist attacks have been among that Spanish police have debunked online.