Facebook to Flag and Filter Fake News in Germany

Amna El Tawil — IWB Jan 17, 2017

facebook censorshipThe federal elections in Germany are just around the corner and Facebook aims to put a stop to false rumors circling around. The fake news played a major role in the US election too and this kind of media influence can make a huge impact on voters. To prevent that, the biggest social media website in the world will start testing out a fake news filtering tool in Germany.

The move was, primarily, motivated by the fear of a proposed law in Germany which would levy a €500,000 ($523,320) fine for each single piece of misinformation published and not removed by the network within 24 hours.

According to the Forbes, with the new system, German Facebook users will be able to report a story as “fake”. It will then be sent to Correctiv, and independent, Berlin-based, fact-checking organization, which will examine it. If the fact-checkers deem the story as unreliable, it will be flagged as “disputed”.

The fact-checkers must sign up to a code of principles to take part. There are currently 43 signatories, including news organizations in several different countries.

Although users will still be able to share that particular news on their Facebook profile, they’ll also receive a warning. Plus, their update will be less visible due to the fact that news feed algorithm won’t prioritize it.

Facebook confirmed the test in a post on its German-language press site.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Financial Times: “Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next.”

Facebook has been widely criticized after some users complained that fake news had influenced the US presidential election. Moreover, German government officials have expressed a growing concern that misinformation on the internet could influence the country’s parliamentary election this year. Last week, the social news site Buzzfeed found Facebook pages were publishing false stories about German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is seeking re-election.

The fake news problem spreads to the United Kingdom too. There, MPs are set to question executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter about fake news amid fears it is undermining democracy.

 

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