Society

Facebook Targets Fake News Before French Elections

| by Simone Stover

During the lead up to France's presidential elections, Facebook has taken steps to stop the spread of fake news by fake accounts linked to France. 

Following the U.S. presidential election in November 2016, Facebook received criticism for false news that was spread throughout its site, according to The Associated Press.

Some claimed the false news stories that were spread could have influenced the election's outcome. Since the end of the election, Facebook has taken active efforts to reduce the amount of fake news spread on its site in light of such criticisms. 

For example, on April 6, the AP reported on guidelines Facebook had issued in order combat the problem of fake news. A notification popped up on user's screens for a few days, and when clicked, took users to a page with tips on how to recognize fake news. 

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Among other suggestions, the page encouraged readers to be "skeptical of headlines," to investigate sources, and to look at "other reports." 

According to Lucy Dalglish, journalism dean at the University of Maryland, Facebook has been doing a good job of seeking outside help in its search for solutions to the problem of fake news.

Facebook is "working very hard to figure out how to get their arms wrapped around this," she said, according to the AP. "Facebook was always very interested in technology but not the social and civic implications of technology. It's like they have become citizens."

Facebook's efforts are not solely confined to the United States. The company is also looking to stop the spread of fake news regarding the French presidential elections.

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The French elections -- which takes place in two parts -- will occur on April 23 and May 7, according to The Telegraph. The Telegraph also reports that in light of other high-profile elections that have taken place throughout this past year -- most notably the U.S. presidential election in November and Britain's Brexit referendum in June -- the French elections are receiving more attention than normal, even outside of Europe. 

The Telegraph has dubbed the elections a way to "see just how far the 'populist wave' has traveled." 

In light of such gravity, Facebook is attempting to remove the influence of fake news from the French elections. According to the AP, Facebook has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France as of April 14 and is removing the sites that boast the highest levels of traffic. 

Facebook told the AP on April 13 that it is attempting to "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." 

Sources: AP via Richmond Times-Dispatch, AP, Facebook, The Telegraph / Photo credit: wisegie/Flickr

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