Facebook Advertises In UK Papers Tips On Spotting Fake News

Fact checked

Facebook has taken out full-page adverts in leading UK newspapers with tips for combating the spread of fake news.

Today the social media giant took out traditional advertising space in The Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times, in a bid to raise awareness about the spread of misinformation ahead of next month’s UK General Election.

The company claims to have already  killed “tens of thousands of fake UK accounts” and is mimicking a similar campaign that it ran ahead of the French general election.facebook

arstechnica reports:

The Mark Zuckerberg-run company, which has long-swerved any suggestion that it is the publisher of content that is shared on its site by nearly two billion people worldwide, makes it clear in its press ad that the onus is on its users to police dodgy-looking posts.

“Be skeptical of headlines,” it warned. Apparently, “catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation marks” could contain false news and users should be wary of clicking on clickbaity, screeching claims.

Facebook has been under a lot of pressure from politicians and regulators in Europe to deal with so-called fake news. It said it was building on changes it brought in last month to tackle false posts on its service.

UK users were already served up warning notices at the top of their “news feed” to supposedly help them to flush out hoax posts. But, ahead of the British election on June 8, Facebook has now paid for press ads in national newspapers such as the Times, Telegraph, and Guardian to highlight 10 things users should check for before accepting that “a story is genuine.” And satire is included on the list.

It claimed that “tens of thousands of fake accounts” had been removed from Facebook in the UK alone. In the run-up to the French presidential election (which was won by Emmanuel Macron on Sunday night), 30,000 bogus accounts apparently spewing out “false news” were removed.

“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,” said Facebook’s UK policy director, Simon Milner. “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.”

Milner—who was last seen being berated by MPs on the Home Affairs Committee for failing to adequately crackdown on the proliferation of hate crime posts on Facebook—added that the multi-billion dollar company can’t “solve this problem alone.” He said it had brought in third-party fact checkers, such as Full Fact, to work with news organisations during the election.

Facebook routinely farms out policing of its site to outsiders. It recently said it would hire 3,000 content moderators to—in the words of Zuckerberg—”help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation.” However, the company has declined to comment on where those 3,000 workers will be employed, leading to claims that the jobs will be outsourced.

Edmondo Burr
BA Economics/Statistics CEO