The Guardian Combats Fake News With Improved Article Date Labels

The Guardian has amended the way it labels old stories, both on its website and on social media, with the aim of stopping them going viral in a misleading way when readers wrongly believe they have recently been published.

Previously, the Guardian flagged when a story was several months or years old with a warning under the time stamp on the left-hand side of articles.

Now the warning has been moved to the top of articles, above the headline, where it will also be highlighted in yellow. The year in which an article was published will also be visible when shared on Facebook and Twitter.

In a blog post, Chris Moran, the Guardian’s editor of strategic projects, explained: “For some time now we’ve been aware of certain issues around social sharing in particular. Shorn of context like the date, accurate and responsible reporting can mislead.

“As an example, almost every February we see a sudden spike in referral from Facebook to a six-year-old story about horsemeat in a supermarket’s meat products. Originally published in February 2013, it’s generally discovered via search, the reader notices the month of publication but not the year and kicks off an annual, minor viral moment.”

Mr Moran concluded: “Trust is integral in responsible journalism and we take our responsibilities incredibly seriously. It’s not possible to control every action on every platform in the digital world but we believe these steps will make it increasingly difficult for bad actors to use our journalism to the wrong ends and will help everyday readers get clear context around our articles, regardless of when it was published.

“As we’re relying on platforms re-setting their cached versions of older articles it may take a short while before some dates begin to appear.” 

This follows the news that the Guardian is aiming to reach two million supporters in three years time and remains on track to break even.