Facebook in new drive to tackle issue of fake news

In its ongoing war on fakery - and having faced criticism it didn't do enough before the US election last November - Facebook (FB +0.4%) says it's deleted tens of thousands of accounts in Great Britain ahead of a June 8 general election.

The company also claims to have removed 30,000 fake accounts ahead of the first round of the presidential election that took place last month, which came to a close on Sunday. Apart from France and the UK, Facebook previously paid for a similar anti-fake news campaign in Germany, and recent developments suggest that the social media giant is adamant to continue with this practice in the future. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it could indicate that it is false.

"In December, we started to test incorporating this signal into a ranking, specifically for articles that are outliers, where people who read the article are significantly less likely to share it".

It seems the company has come around to the idea that "fake news" campaigns may actually be able to influence elections, after initially denying that this was the case in the U.S. At first, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said fake news was a minuscule problem, and called the suggestion that it may have affected the election "a pretty insane idea".

The moves follow growing pressure on Facebook over fake news.

Facebook

"It's a way to show the critics they are honest and trying to take measures to distance themselves from the perception Facebook is basically a channel that can be misused very easily", Niklas Myhr, an assistant professor of marketing at Chapman University, told NBC News. Apparently, "catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation marks" could contain false news and users should be wary of clicking on clickbaity, screeching claims. People can help too by letting the firm know when they spot a rotter, and Facebook is starting to work with fact checking organisations to improve its BS identification skills.

"We have developed new ways to identify and remove fictitious accounts, which can spread false news".

United Kingdom users were already served up warning notices at the top of their "news feed" to supposedly help them to flush out hoax posts.

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

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  • Ronnie Bowen