Mark Zuckerberg explains how Facebook will fight fake news

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has revealed how the social network plans to combat the spread of fake news stories.

Following Donald Trump’s election victory, Facebook has faced stinging criticism for allowing bogus news stories to be circulated on the platform, which some commentators have argued may have influenced the result.

These phony stories included a claim that someone was paid $3,500 to disrupt a Trump rally and that Hollywood star Denzel Washington had praised the tycoon.

Zuckerberg responded to the controversy by insisting that over 99% of the content on Facebook was “authentic”, and dismissed the suggestion that hoaxes changed the outcome of the election as “extremely unlikely”.

Now Facebook's figurehead has posted details of seven projects intended to clamp down on fake stories going viral, including measures for stronger detection, third party verification and disrupting fake sites from profiting from advertising.

As we reported last week, both Facebook and Google, which has also came in for heavy criticism, see strangling access to their ad networks as one way of discouraging hoaxers from spreading stories.

"We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on the site.

He added that the challenges of stamping it out were complex, both “technically and philosophically” and that Facebook did not want to discourage the sharing of opinions or become "arbiters of truth".

Mark Zuckerberg's seven-point plan for cutting fake news:

- Stronger detection. The most important thing we can do is improve our ability to classify misinformation. This means better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.

- Easy reporting. Making it much easier for people to report stories as fake will help us catch more misinformation faster.

- Third party verification. There are many respected fact checking organizations and, while we have reached out to some, we plan to learn from many more.

- Warnings. We are exploring labeling stories that have been flagged as false by third parties or our community, and showing warnings when people read or share them.

- Related articles quality. We are raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed.

- Disrupting fake news economics. A lot of misinformation is driven by financially motivated spam. We're looking into disrupting the economics with ads policies like the one we announced earlier this week, and better ad farm detection.

- Listening. We will continue to work with journalists and others in the news industry to get their input, in particular, to better understand their fact checking systems and learn from them.

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