1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Facebook ups fight against fake news in Germany

Lewis Sanders IV
August 4, 2017

The social media giant has described renewed efforts as "one of our most important goals." With elections just around the corner in Germany, authorities fear fake news could affect the vote.

Facebook office in Berlin
Image: picture alliance/dpa/S. Stache

Facebook on Thursday announced it is to bolster its efforts to root out fake news in Germany, France and the Netherlands through a process of identifying content, fact-checking and offering the tools for users to inform themselves.

"One of our most important goals is to support an informed community on Facebook. This includes helping people interact with the latest news and information," it said in a blog post published on its website.

Read more: Why the 'fake rape' story against German NATO forces fell flat in Lithuania

The US-based technology company said it will use improved machine learning to identify potential fake news articles which can be passed on to external fact checkers.

 A screen shot from Facebook's website shows how they plan to use the feature in Germany
A screen shot from Facebook's website shows how they plan to use the feature in GermanyImage: Facebook

'Headlines about aliens'

It plans to complement the review process by leveraging the power of its Related Articles feature, which groups similar articles under one a user has read in their newsfeed.

Facebook said that it will place Related Articles with a notification before the article appears in a feed in order for the user to determine whether they may want to read the article.

For example, a notification saying "possible fake headlines about aliens" may appear in a user's newsfeed before reaching an article concerning the arrival of extraterrestrial life on earth.

Cleaning up fake news

Criminalizing fake news

In Germany, fake news has proliferated on social media networks following the US presidential elections, which witnessed thousands of online articles purporting to report factual events influence the electoral process.

The phenomenon has particularly targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her open-door policy towards migrants fleeing war in the Middle East.

Politicians on both sides of Germany's political spectrum have called for legal measures to punish those found guilty of producing and disseminating malicious articles purporting to be factual.

However, digital rights groups and free speech advocates criticized any legislative maneuvers to criminalize fake news.

Infografik Münchner Security Conference Report 2017  Mainstream vs. fake news attention Englisch