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Facebook to Test Fake News Filtering in Germany


Facebook logo on a screen with a hoodie in front

Facebook will soon begin testing their anti-fake news system as part of their effort to stop such reports from spreading and to reduce their number and influence. The first country where this system will roll out is Germany. It is interesting that federal elections in Germany are going to take place in just a few months-time. And German chancellor Angela Merkel is running for a fourth term.

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Filter the news, avoid fake reports

This move might also have something to do with Germany’s recent proposed law. This states that a fine of $523,320 will be imposed on newspapers or networks if they publish false reports and do not remove them in 24 hours.  How will this new Facebook system work? It is rather simple. From now on, a user will be able to report a piece of information or a story as being fake. The report will then go to Correctiv, an independent fact-checking organization in Berlin. Their job will be to analyze and examine the story. If they find it false, the story will then receive the label “disputed”.

However, users will still be able to share and read the story, but if they choose to do so, Facebook will warn them of a potentially false news report. Also, the news feed algorithm will mainly ignore the story, so it will not appear often on the users’ timelines. Politicians in Germany are worried of misinformation because of these fake stories. Also, that fake news about refugees are going to incite violence against foreigners. For example, in January 2016, a story about a girl who fell victim to rape by some migrants sparked a wave of controversy. The story was later deemed fake, and the girl admitted to making up everything.

United States has it too

Back in December, Facebook began rolling this program in the United States too. It is functioning in the exact same way, but their fact-checking partners are news organizations like ABC News and groups like Politifact and Snopes. This all began after many allegations started appearing which targeted Facebook and other social-media platforms. Many people accused them of promoting fake-news. Those fake-news, at the time, had to do with the presidential election. So, the general idea was that false reports altered the outcome of the presidential election in the United States. Frankly, that it made Donald Trump president instead of Democrat Hillary Clinton, how everyone expected.

Moreover, Germany also fears that Russia might interfere too. This suspicion comes right after U.S. intelligence officials have accused Russian hackers of cyber-attacks. Earlier this month, a declassified report showed that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at making Donald Trump president by any means.

All in all, it will be interesting to see how will this anti-fake news system affect the elections in Germany. It is understandable that chancellor Angela Merkel would want fairness in everything, especially after what happened in the United States. Let’s just hope that she will receive it and no fake-news report will alter the conclusion of the election.

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