Facebook tackles fake news in the UK with a new fact-checking service

Stan Schroeder

Facebook is partnering up with Full Fact, a British charitable organization that focuses on fact-checking, to get rid of fake news in the UK, the company announced Friday.

This is a continuation of Facebook's efforts to combat fake news, which the company ramped up after the 2016 election, but it's the first time the company has launched such an initiative in the UK. 

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This is how it'll work: Facebook users in the UK will be able to flag potentially misleading content. Then, Full Fact's fact-checkers will take over and check the content for accuracy, rating it as true, false or a mix of both.

"Full Fact will focus on reviewing and rating misinformation which carries the most potential for harming people’s safety or undermining democratic processes – such as dangerous cancer ‘cures’, false stories spreading after terror attacks or fake content about how to vote ahead of elections," Facebook said in a press release. 

Content that was flagged as false will appear lower in Facebook's News Feed, and users will see whether the content they're sharing was false or not, but Facebook will not stop them from sharing it if they choose to do so. 

Facebook also notes that Full Fact will only review content that's presented as fact-based reporting, while ignoring other types of content such as opinion or satire. 

The news comes a few weeks after a Guardian report (to which Facebook replied here) on Facebook's third-party fact-checking program. The report claimed the program is in "disarray," and that the company prioritized flagging misinformation which affected its advertisers (Facebook said this was untrue). 

Furthermore, some of Facebook's third-party fact-checkers complained in 2017 that they don't have access to data that would tell them whether the program is working or not. 

The partnership with Full Fact is structured in a way as to overcome these issues. Facebook says it will have "no control over what Full Fact chooses to check, what its fact-checkers write and what rating they give." Furthermore, Full Fact's fact-checks will automatically be uploaded to Facebook, without any Facebook staff member seeing or approving it before it goes live. 

Also, Full Fact will produce quarterly reports to assess how well the program is working. 

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