Ahead of the British general election on June 8, Facebook has deleted tens of thousands of accounts in Britain in its ongoing battle with “fake news” the AP reports. The campaign is part of Facebook’s evolving response to accusations the group was responsible for influencing the US presidential election, through the spread of fake news stories and “filter bubbles”.
“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,” said Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy for the UK. “To help people spot false news, we are showing tips to everyone . . . on how to identify if something they see is false.”
Simon Milner, the tech firm’s U.K. director of policy, says the platform wants to get to the “root of the problem” and is working with outside organizations to fact check and analyze content around the election. Milner added that Facebook is “doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news.”
Additionally, on Monday, the social announced a national print advertising campaign in the UK to “educate the British public” about fake news, as part of a concerted global effort to crack down on the false information epidemic it has seen on its platform. The ads suggest that readers should be “skeptical of headlines,” and to “look closely at the URL.” The company says it has made improvements to help them detect fake news accounts more effectively.
The social network’s full-page print ads will appear in four UK newspapers on Monday, including the Telegraph, Times, Metro and Guardian, reproducing the same 10 tips to spot fake news that it launched on Facebook itself last month the FT adds. The UK campaign follows similar newspaper ads in Germany and France last month ahead of their elections, in newspapers including Bild, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Monde and Les Échos.
As the FT adds, “the 10 tips include watching out for fraudulent web addresses and manipulated photos, as well as considering the source and tone of a story, such as whether it is a joke.”
Since November, it has been working with American fact-checkers such as Snopes and Politifact, later expanding to partnerships with non-profits and media companies in Germany and France.
“Obviously they are trying very hard to reduce this problem because they are facing regulatory pressure in the UK, Germany and elsewhere, they have to be seen to be doing something,” said Professor Charlie Beckett, a media expert at the London School of Economics. “And they are genuinely engaging with it. They want to signal to everyone that they take this seriously.”
This “spring cleaning” would “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts”. The new activities reflect an effort by Facebook to head off a potential reaction from lawmakers, similar to those in Germany pursuing fines for fake news.
The crackdown announcement comes one day after Macron’s victory in the French presidential elections, following a campaign which saw numerous media outlets accuse Russia of interference. The UK has similarly blamed the Kremlin of interference in the past, although as noted last week, the latest target of the UK government appears to have shifted to the EU itself, following a dramatic deterioration in relations between the two adversaries as Brexit negotiations get increasingly more heated.