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Bullshit Detector plugin tells you when you’re reading fake news

Updated Nov 22nd, 2019 4:30AM EST

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With all the current talk about whether Facebook and Google should be policing fake news on their platforms, it pays to take a few precautions of your own. A new Chrome plugin aptly called Bullshit Detector can alert you if you’re about to be fooled by a fake news story, and it’s super easy to use.

To install the plugin, just head to the Chrome Web Store and add it to your browser. Once you have it up and running, it automatically detects and labels news from outlets that are known to spread false or misleading information on a regular basis.

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The plugin works on Facebook and Twitter, but is also useful if you find yourself on a fake news site by some other means — like if a friend sends you a link and the detector doesn’t have a chance to throw up a red flag before you arrive. If you’re on a false news site, navigating to any of the site’s pages will throw up a similar warning:

The tooltip that pops up is hard to miss, but not obstructive, so you can still browse the potentially misleading news if you so choose.

The plugin was created by Daniel Sieradski, a technologist based in New York. He’s also uploaded the plugin’s code to popular repository GitHub, should you fancy a look at the 1s and 0s that make it tick.

Bullshit Detector works great, but it’s also not an all-encompassing solution to the fake news epidemic. Oftentimes, social media becomes flooded with links to false stories that the people sharing them never took the time to read in the first place. B.S. Detector can’t solve that problem — if you’re not willing to vet the news you’re sharing to begin with, your computer can’t do it for you — but it’s still a powerful tool if you find yourself in a fact-checking war on Facebook.