Fake News Filter Introduced By Facebook In Germany-Step Taken Before Elections

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Jan 15, 2017
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According to The Financial Times, Facebook will be introducing its fake news filter in Germany. This is primarily due to the growing concern of fake news and Russian interference before the national elections set for later this year. According to reports, the social website will be checking for any sort of fabrications of news in Germany in the next few weeks. Similar tools were launched in the US last month in collaboration with independent fact checking organizations.

Facebook fake news filter

Fake news has a way of spreading itself and the problems it causes are endless. German politicians expressed concerned about this and how it could affect the federal elections. Lawmakers considered imposing fines on any social medium that allows the spread of fake news. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor expressed concern over Russian interference through cyber attacks or general propaganda. After Breitbart published a fake story on a mob setting fire to a Church on New Year’s Eve, the German government started an open investigation into the spreading of any fabricated news or report.

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Under Facebook’s fact-checking system, any news or story that will be reported by users as fake will be sent to a nonprofit organization in Berlin, the Correctiv. Any item that is confirmed false will be marked as ‘disputed’ along with a reason for deserving this label and the site will warn users of its status before they share it. Disputed items will also appear lower in Facebook’s algorithmically-determined News Feeds. According to a Facebook spokesperson the company intends on collaborating with other media partners in Germany and wishes to introduce similar fact checking tools in other nations as well. The spokesperson said “Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next.”

Protect elections or protect culture?

The authorities have asked Facebook and other similar tech companies to check for fake news and hate speech. Strict instructions have been given for this purpose. Last year, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that Facebook should be regulated in Germany and should be held legally responsible for any objectionable content that it publishes. According to reports, German government has considered setting up a bureau that would track any such content, similar to the system set by the Czech Republic. However, various parties are suggesting this as a means of controlling the media prior to the elections.

Mass said in an interview that fake news represented a “danger to our culture of debate” and that all social media companies “have a duty” to control the spread of such news. Maas said, “It can’t be in Facebook’s interest that its platform is misused in order to spread lies and hate campaigns. Criminal content should be deleted immediately once it has been reported. And it must be easier for users to report fake news.”

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