Skip to main content

Facebook newspaper ads warn of fake news ahead of U.K. election

facebook fake news newspaper ads woman using
Image used with permission by copyright holder
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.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Facebook says it’s banning deepfakes
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on "An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors" in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019.

Two days before Facebook is set to appear in front of lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce hearing on manipulated media, the social network has announced it’s banning all forms of deepfakes. The announcement represents a significant step forward for Facebook, which has been struggling to mend its ailing image with the 2020 presidential election right around the corner.

In a blog post, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, said the company will take down videos that have been "edited or synthesized in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person" or are the "product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic."

Read more
Snopes says ex-partner Facebook is ‘not committed’ to fighting fake news
mark zuckerberg testimony feat

Snopes, the internet’s favorite fact-checking site, is having a good week. It scored a win when Facebook said it removed over 600 profiles, as well as a number of pages and groups associated with these profiles, following some extensive reporting by Snopes. A report by Snopes claims that a network of inauthentic Facebook profiles were artificially boosting engagement to a pro-President Donald Trump media outlet.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment as to what its future strategy would be to continue fighting the ongoing problem of inauthentic engagement and fake user profiles, but the company has previously announced a rash of efforts to fight fake news, including partnering with local fact-checking organizations all over the world to monitor the content on its platform. At the same time, though, it said it will be “demoting,” but not removing, content that has been rated as untrustworthy, and announced the decision not to fact-check political ads.

Read more
Deepfake videos of U.K. leaders set chilling precedent for 2020 U.S. election
uk election deepfake video boris johnson jeremy corbyn 2020 heads of governments meet in brussels during eu council summit

When a video of United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson emerged Tuesday morning, something about it seemed very odd.

The video starts out conventionally enough: It looks like Johnson is making his usual stump speech in the midst of the U.K.’s snap general election — he speaks about a divided country and high-running emotions over Brexit — until suddenly 20 seconds in, when Johnson endorses his rival, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, for prime minister.

Read more