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Facebook announced tests to identify fake news in the US in December 2016. This is now being expanded with tools being introduced in Germany to identify potential fake news stories. There will be a ‘fake news story’ option when reporting other users’ posts, which can then be marked as fake news or the other user can be blocked. The stories will be flagged for third-party fact-checkers to review them. If they are found to be unreliable, the story will be marked as ‘disputed’ and will appear lower in news feeds.
Facebook was criticised after users complained that fake news influenced the US presidential election. With a parliamentary election in Germany this year, there is conern that false information on the internet may have an influence. False stories about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking re-election, were found on Facebook pages. Defamation laws in Germany are stricter than those in the US, a factor for Facebook to consider in combatting fake news. Facebook also announced new training and tools for journalists.
Social media is a common way for information, news and adverts to reach the population. It is easy to assume that news stories are genuine and legitimate, but this is not always the case. It seems that fake news is a growing problem, and the proposed solutions will require fact-checking for potentially hundreds, even thousands, of stories that will take a lot of time and effort of third-party organisations. This shows that Facebook is taking the issue seriously, and hopefully solutions for fake news to be identified will become more widespread and efficient over time.