Wednesday 13 December 2017

Facebook adverts aim to help users spot fake news

Facebook has been heavily criticised for its handling of fake news content, with MPs among those warning the site must do more.

By Zaina Alibhai

Facebook has printed adverts containing tips on how to spot fake news.

The adverts appeared in national newspapers and advise Facebook users to “be sceptical of headlines” and check other reports on the same subject before believing a story.

Facebook claims it has already removed “thousands” of fake accounts in the UK following a new drive to identify and shut down such content.

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However, a recent Press Association investigation found fake news stories linked to Lord Sugar and Professor Stephen Hawking still appeared on the site.

Simon Milner, the tech firm’s director of policy in the UK, said: “People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we.

“That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news.

“We have developed new ways to identify and remove fake accounts that might be spreading false news so that we get to the root of the problem.”

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Last week, the Home Affairs Select Committee called Facebook and other social media sites “completely irresponsible” in their handling of fake news and other extreme content on their platforms.

In response, Milner said Facebook was working with fact-checking organisations to analyse content around the General Election.

“To help people spot false news we are showing tips to everyone on Facebook on how to identify if something they see is false,” he said.

“We can’t solve this problem alone so we are supporting third party fact checkers during the election in their work with news organisations, so they can independently assess facts and stories.”

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The new adverts are an extension of the online notice that first appeared on the news feeds of Facebook users last month.

That came after founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to defend the site after the US election amid claims fake news stories in support of Donald Trump could have aided his victory.

The site has said it is committed to an approach that disrupts the economic incentives around fake news and builds tools that “help people make more informed decisions”.

Press Association

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