Facebook cracks down on fake news accounts

Facebook banned accounts and ran "educational adverts" in British newspapers today in its latest effort to tackle fake news.

The social network's adverts appeared in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph, and are the same tips which were recently published at the top of users' news feeds. They include being sceptical of headlines, looking at other reports and investigating the source of the article.

Furthermore, Facebook has also removed tens of thousands of fake accounts and has made improvements to its system to recognise these types of accounts by identifying patterns of activity. This is done by detecting repeated posting of the same content or an increase in the amount of messages sent. Facebook hopes this will reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity including spam and misinformation.

Facebook's director of policy for the UK, Simon Milner, said: "People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we. That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news. We have developed new ways to identify and remove fake accounts that might be spreading false news so that we get to the root of the problem."

The company will also start testing a new feature in the UK which aims to change the ranking of articles which are read but not shared on people's news feeds. Facebook thinks this behaviour may be a sign that a story has misled people, so it will have a lower ranking on the site.

Lastly, Facebook has teamed up with Google to run a fact checking partnership, working with major newsrooms to address rumours and misinformation spread online during the general election. They will be announcing more details soon.

Milner added: "To help people spot false news we are showing tips to everyone on Facebook on how to identify if something they see is false. We can't solve this problem alone so we are supporting third party fact checkers during the election in their work with news organisations, so they can independently assess facts and stories".

This follows on from the tech giants' announcement in April to combat fake news. MP Damian Collins also criticised Facebook last month for not carrying out sufficient measures to fight fake news ahead of the UK general election on 8 June.

Collins said today: "I welcome the measures announced by Facebook this morning to address #fakenews Education is key, but is no silver bullet."

Picture credit: Facebook

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.