London- Facebook has broadened its campaign to raise awareness about fake news, by publishing adverts in the UK press.
The ads, in papers including The Times, The Guardian and Daily Telegraph, carry a list of 10 things to look out for when deciding if a story is genuine.
The new procedures include checking the article date and website address, as well as making sure it isn’t intended as satire. Facebook is under fresh political pressure to tackle fake news in the run up to the UK general election.
Analysis by Zoe Kleinman, BBC Technology Reporter ‘the spread of fake news across social mediat, was accused by some of influencing the US presidential election in 2016.
Facebook has not gone so far as to accept that but its latest report acknowledges that there was some activity which “required action”.
The upcoming UK election caused additional pressure in Britain. The creators of fake news make money because of the clicks on the ads they carry. Google and Facebook say they are committed to blocking them from using ad services but they are still popping up.
It’s interesting and perhaps a sign of Facebook’s older membership that it has chosen traditional print media to help spread its message in the UK.
The ten tips are sound advice and will be well-known to journalists already as standard checks. The power of word-of-mouth as a marketing tool is well known to both marketing professionals and scammers alike.
The platform said it had already removed “tens of thousands” of fake Facebook accounts and that systems were now monitoring the repeated posting of the same content or a sharp increase in messaging.
Accounts displaying this activity are then flagged, it added.
Facebook is also decreasing the ranking of stories that people tend to read but not share.
Last month Conservative MP Damian Collins asked Facebook to tackle fake news in the run up to the UK general election.
Collins told the Guardian: “The danger is, if for many people the main source of news is Facebook and if the news they get on Facebook is mostly fake news, they could be voting based on lies.”
In a report released last month, Facebook admitted it had seen political propaganda deliberately spread on its site.
“We have observed many actions by fake account operators that could only be performed by people with language skills and a basic knowledge of the political situation in the target countries, suggesting a higher level of coordination and forethought,” it said in the document.
It added that “several” cases during the 2016 US presidential election had required action.
Simon Milner, Facebook’s UK director of policy, said: “People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we”.
“To help people spot false news we are showing tips to everyone on Facebook on how to identify if something they see is false,” he added.
Facebook’s ten steps for spotting fake news
• Be skeptical of headlines
• Look closely at the web address (URL)
• Investigate the source
• Watch for unusual formatting
• Consider the photos
• Check the date
• Check the evidence
• Look at other reports
• Is the story a joke?
• Some stories are intentionally false (satirical)