Facebook has announced plans that it will introduce new measures to reduce the dissemination of fake news stories in Germany ahead of this September’s national elections.

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The move comes hot on the heels of last November’s US Presidential election where ‘Fake News’ shared on social media sites has been widely criticised for influencing the final results.

German government officials have also expressed concerns in recent months over the impact that blatant misinformation shared on the internet could have on the decision of voters.

Part of the reason that Facebook may have chosen Germany to begin trialling its anti-fake-news initiative is that it famously has much stricter anti-defamation laws than the US. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are also set to be questioned by politician in the UK over whether fake news in undermining democracy.

“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” said a statement released by Facebook’s German newsroom. “We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

The investigative media group Correctiv, a German collective of independent journalists, has been tasked with flagging fake news stories on the social media platform.  It is hoped they will be the first of several outside fact-checkers to be recruited by Facebook in Germany. They will initially concentrate on fake news stories and help to provide objective, unbiased reviews of news”.

So, are Correctiv going to go through every news story on Facebook to see what’s fake and what’s not?

No.

The emphasis for reporting fake news will rely primarily on Facebook users themselves. Users in Germany will be given the option to select ‘It’s a fake news story,’ and Facebook will then send potential made-up news to Correctiv to check the facts. Any false stories found will be marked as ‘disputed’ and appear lower down in user news feeds.

Facebook has already begun trialling ‘fact-checker’ organisations in a limited capacity in the US to try and verify news on its platform there. Facebook also announced last week that it would also soon make new tools and training available to journalists and penalise websites that were passing themselves off as credible sources of news.

The new approach by Facebook to fake-news is something of a compete about-face for founder and CEO and Mark Zuckerberg who said in November that the effect of fakes news on November’s US election had had virtually no effect: “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes.”

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