In a story that sounds like it could be fake news in and of itself, Facebook has taken out a series of newspaper advertisements in the U.K. ahead of the general election planned for June 8. The ads warn of fake news and its associated dangers, and go on to offer helpful tips on how to spot a faux story and how to confirm its reliability through fact checking.
While it may seem out of place for a company such as Facebook to opt for a hard copy advertising campaign, it may well be targeting a specific audience with it — the kind who may not use Facebook often, or are unlikely to read warning messages on the site itself. It’s also quite an overt way for the firm to show it takes the matter of fake news seriously, by talking about in physical, “real world” media.
Some of the tips the ads offer include checking URLs, investigating the source of the story, and seeing if other sites and services corroborate what’s being said. The ads also highlight specific factors of fake stories which can act as warning signs, such as strange formatting, dates that don’t fit with the narrative, and a lack of evidence.
Facebook’s messages to the public also suggested that people be wary of overly emotive headlines and consider that there is every chance that the story is satirical or a joke, especially those that seem the most outrageous.
Along with its warnings about fake news, however, Facebook has used the campaign as a way to highlight its own efforts to combat the phenomenon. It claims to have developed “new ways to identify and remove fake accounts,” (via Reuters), which it said helped it get to the root of the problem of phony stories proliferating on its platforms.
Facebook claimed to have deleted as many as 30,000 Facebook accounts prior to France’s recent general election and is in the process of similarly reviewing British accounts, too. It has already targeted accounts that appear to spam similar material repeatedly, as that suggests they are bot accounts pushing a specific message.
Facebook isn’t the only big tech giant trying to tackle fake news. Google recently announced a change to its search algorithm and search-user tools to try and mitigate its effects.