Facebook Germany to start tackling fake news within weeks

Politicians fear online hate speech and false news could influence September elections

Facebook said it would make it easier for people to report suspected fake news and would work with fact-checking organisations

Facebook said it would make it easier for people to report suspected fake news and would work with fact-checking organisations

 

Facebook has said it will update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news.

“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the US technology company’s German-language newsroom said.

“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.

Other government officials have expressed concern that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.

Fact-checking

The Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and would work with external fact-checking organisations.

One of those, German-based Correctiv, has signed the US Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Facebook would require others it enlisted to do the same.

Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as non-credible, and the reasons for the decision given.

Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said.

Germany has seen an increase in online hate speech following an influx of more than a million migrants.

False stories

Meanwhile in London, the Guardian reports that the BBC is to assemble a team to try to spot deliberately misleading and false stories masquerading as real news.

Amid growing concern among politicians and news organisations about the impact of false information online, news chief James Harding told staff the BBC would be “weighing in on the battle over lies, distortions and exaggerations”.

The plans will see the corporation’s Reality Check series become permanent, backed by a dedicated team targeting false stories or facts being shared widely on social media.