24 Jan 2017

Social Media Update - Fake News on Facebook: Getting Tough on the Liars

by Verlie Oosthuizen, Partner, Durban,
Practice Area(s): Social Media / Cyber Crimes |

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has long had questions about the way that Facebook deals with news and hate speech. As far back as 2015 she was querying the way that Mark Zuckerberg was dealing with racist posts and confronted him at a UN event. He was heard saying that Facebook needed to “work on the issue”.

Now, in the run up to the Federal elections in Germany and following serious pressure from Merkel, Facebook is introducing new tools to combat fake news with a "fact check button" being added for users. This is specifically designed to combat fake news and media hoaxes and pieces found to be false by independent media fact checkers will be flagged as "disputed".  This in turn will have an effect on their appearance in social media feeds as the Facebook “algorithm” which is designed to highlight the news that users are most interested in, will reject those pieces of news.

Germany is the second country to have this tool introduced with the US having it added in December following allegations that misinformation helped Trump come to power.
Germany is one of the countries that is starting to threaten penalties against companies such as Facebook spreading fake news.

We do not have this functionality yet so don't believe everything you read on Facebook!