Posted on May 8, 2017 by staff

Facebook cracks down on fake news


Facebook is cracking down on fake news with an awareness campaign in UK newspapers and new algorithms to detect false articles.

Adverts appeared in The Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph detailing a list of 10 things users can look for to decide whether a story is genuine.

They correspond to tips also available on Facebook’s help page.

They 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)

Meanwhile the platform said it had already removed “tens of thousands” of fake Facebook accounts.

It suspended 30,000 accounts in France before the first round of the presidential election and plans to remove tens of thousands more. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right Marine Le Pen on Sunday to become the youngest French President.

A BBC Panorama documentary to be aired tonight (Monday 8th May) is set to show how fake news contributed to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and US President Donald Trump’s successful run to the White House.

“We’ve made improvements to recognise these inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself,” Facebook said.

“For example, our systems may detect repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent.

“With these changes, we expect we will also reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”

It added: “We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way.

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

“We’re now expanding the test to the UK.”

Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy for 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.

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

“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.”