Facebook on Sunday announced an initiative to combat the proliferation of fake news on its German-language social media platforms, Deutsche Well (DW) reported early this week.
This comes at a time when analysts have dubbed Germany a ‘fake news hotspot’ as it enters a key election year.
“We are working very carefully on a solution to this problem. Our efforts are focused on the distribution of unique false alarms generated by spammers,” Facebook said in a statement.
“We have also used third parties to provide objective, unbiased reviews of news.”
Under the initiative, Facebook will create tools to make it easier to report suspected articles, display warnings next to statements identified as false by an independent fact-checking organisation and cut off advertising revenue for fake news sites, DW said on Monday.
Facebook tapped Correctiv, a nonpartisan and nonprofit investigative journalism collective, to serve as a third-party fact-checker and review flagged material found on its platforms.
“Fake news – especially on Facebook – is already one of the major threats of our society. That is clear. We fear that these threats will become even more massive in the coming months, whether it is the NRW election or the election of the next Bundestag in autumn,” Correctiv said.
“For this reason, we are determined to do as much as we can to fight fake news. Our democracy must not be abused by lies and liars,” it added.
Sheila Coronel, journalism professor at Colombia University in New York, dubbed Germany the ‘latest fake news hotspot’ amid an uptick in articles linking German Chancellor Angela Merkel, running for a fourth term, to several conspiracy theories.
The fake news invasion has been blamed for allegedly helping US president-elect Donald Trump win the elections, by damaging Hillary Clinton’s campaign through a pack of fake stories. Some European Union officials have accused Russia of being behind the fake news invasion in the aim of manipulating elections in the West and sowing social panic and chaos.
(with the assistance of DW, addtional reports and final editing by Issa Sikiti)