Facebook steps up war on fake news in the UK

Posted on May 9, 2017


Social media network Facebook has announced its intentions to rid the site of fake news with a number of ads in UK media outlets designed to help raise awareness of the problem just in time for the general election next month.

Since the autumn of last year, fake news has been a well-publicised problem with social media and Facebook in particular. In November last year, company CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to defend his enterprise and state that the circulation of fake news on the platform did not influence the outcome of the US Presidential election, which saw Donald Trump voted in as the nation’s 45th President.

In order to avoid a repeat scenario here in the UK, with the pending general election on June 8th, the company has broadened its attempts to banish fake news by publishing a number of adverts in the UK press informing users of telltale signs to look out for when deciding whether an article is genuine or not.

The ads appear in newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph, The Times, and The Guardian and feature a list of 10 features to look out for. These include checking the date of the article and the URL of the site publishing it. It also asks users to check whether it is a parody article or intended as satire.

Facebook’s 10 tips to spotting fake news are:

• Be sceptical of headlines
• Look closely at the URL [web address]
• Investigate the source
• Watch for unusual formatting
• Consider the photos
• Check the date
• Check the evidence
• Look at other reports
• Is the story a joke?
• Some stories are intentionally false [satirical]

The platform has already made significant inroads into fixing the problem by removing “tens of thousands” of fake accounts on the site, as well as installing systems that monitor the repeated posting of the same articles or a detection of a sharp increase in messaging. Should an account display this kind of behaviour, it is flagged. Furthermore, Facebook will be decreasing the ranking of stories that people tend to read and not share, ensuring they appear further down a user’s news feed.

Fake news is spread on social media for many reasons, including propaganda, but often also to make money as a result of the clicks on the adverts the stories carry. Both Facebook and internet giant Google have stated that they are devoted to blocking these sources from using their advertising services.

Operations Manager at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Operations Manager.
Alan Littler
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