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MPR News launches service to combat disinformation during 2020 elections

Doctored images and outright lies are becoming increasingly commonplace on social media.

MPR News has announced it will launch a new service on Wednesday that is designed to combat disinformation ahead of the 2020 elections.

The new initiative, called "Can You Believe It?," will offer a service to the public "to inform themselves about disinformation and how to spot it."

It will launch on Wednesday during the Morning Edition show, with segments running continually through the year till the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Listeners can submit some of the potentially dubious news they've come across for fact-checking by the MPR News team using this online form, or by emailing ask@mpr.org.

The service will be lead by MPR News journalists Mike Mulcahy, Brian Bakst, Catharine Richert, Michael Olson, Cody Nelson, Jiwon Choi and Sara Porter, who will address disinformation in regular segments, and identify the sources of dubious news.

"It’s especially important during an election season to be vigilant for exaggeration and falsehoods, not just in your traditional media sources, but also in the information you see scrolling through your social media newsfeed," said Laura McCallum, MPR News’ interim director.

"True or not, the more something is shared, the more opportunity it has to be consumed. And that ultimately can affect how and if people vote."

The service is launched at a time when the likes of Facebook is facing pressure for not getting to grips with the spread of disinformation by nefarious actors, which follows on from the Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

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Facebook announced on Tuesday it would be cracking down on "deepfake" posts – photos and videos manipulated using AI.

However, as Forbes reports, Facebook is leaving loopholes for malicious information to spread, as it will not remove poltiical videos that have been modified so as to take them out of context, or to change the order of words.

For example, a recent video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to slur her speech would not qualify for removal.

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