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FFS Blog: Facebook and newspapers pledge to tackle ‘fake news’


(alastairbrian) #1

Facebook has unveiled new measures to tackle so-called ‘fake news’ before next month’s Westminster vote.

It has faced criticism for its role in promoting unverified news sites in the run up to the EU referendum and the US president election.

At the beginning of the week, the tech giant took out adverts in a number of British newspapers which gave ten tips to help spot ‘fake news’.

The ten tips were:

  • Be skeptical of headlines
  • Look closely at the URL
  • Investigate the source
  • Watch for unusual formatting
  • Consider the photos
  • Inspect the dates
  • Check the evidence
  • Look at other reports
  • Is the story a joke?
  • Some stories are intentionally false

But that’s not all. The company has also reportedly banished tens of thousands of fake accounts which it says are instrumental in the spread of false information (including 30,000 before the French election).

Facebook says it is treating ‘fake news’ in a similar way to clickbait, using algorithms to stop the flow of sources which are misleading users.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s UK director of policy, 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.”

Advert in major UK newspapers

The initiative comes in the same week that a number of UK regional newspapers pledged to fight fake news ahead of Local Newspaper Week starting on May 15.

A number of local papers have run editorials in Scotland, including Glasgow’s Evening Times, and an online campaign on Friday called #TrustedNewsDay sought to highlight the role of local editions in the fight against false reporting.

News Media Association chairman Ashley Highfield said: “Through their reporting, local newspapers uphold, promote and support democracy, fighting against the fake news which undermines and subverts it. We must champion the vital democratic function of local newspapers now, more than ever.”

A prominent hoax managed to fool one of the country’s largest newspapers this week.

The Daily Mail fell for the hoax

Repeat offender The Daily Mail was taken in by a story about a man who put £500 on Marine Le Pen to win the French presidential race, and then unsuccessfully tried to get his money back by blaming his 13-year-old son.

A great story of schadenfreude, which was backed up by some Twitter screenshots, but it was not in fact real. The Guardian revealed in an interview that a regular hoaxer was behind the account and there was no bet.

The Daily Mail has now taken down the article, but it lives on in screenshots recovered from Twitter.