Facebook debuts ‘fake news’ tools in Germany ahead of elections

Facebook headquarters uganda

We’re only three weeks into the new year, but “fake news” could already be the phrase of the year. After reports suggested that fake news on Twitter and Facebook contributed to Donald Trump’s win in last year’s US Presidential election, the latter is finally clamping down on the issue.

The company has announced new tools to curb fake news in Germany, presumably as a measure ahead of the country’s August 2017 elections.

“Last month we announced some tests to address the issue of fake news on Facebook,” Aine Kerr, the company’s manager of journalism partnerships, wrote in a press release.

“In the next few weeks we’ll be starting to roll out these updates in Germany.”

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These tools will allow users to police and report fake stories in their Facebook news feeds, and will also employ “third-party fact checking organisations” to effectively critique pieces on the network. If found to be questionable, the organisations can then “flag them as disputed in News Feed”.

Fake news is fast becoming a burning issue for massive social networks, like Facebook and Twitter

Facebook has been under fire since November 2016, after reports suggested that fake news on the social network outperformed genuine journalism. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly moved to quell the criticism, suggesting that “more than 99% of what people see [on Facebook] is authentic”.

While the tools will only be implemented in Germany for now, we could see Facebook deploy these to other territories in the coming months.

“We’ll learn from these tests in this region, and iterate and extend them over time,” Kerr concludes.

Goodness knows South Africa needs it.

Andy Walker, former editor


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