May 8, 2017 11:28 am
Updated: May 8, 2017 12:25 pm

Facebook removed over 30,000 fake news accounts ahead of French and British elections

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Ahead of the British general election in June, Facebook has launched an advertising campaign to warn users of the dangers of fake news.

The largest social media company in the world claims to have deleted tens of thousands of accounts as part of its goal to preserve the authenticity of the news media during the UK election.

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The tech giant also took out large ads in British newspapers offering readers methods for identifying inaccurate stories. The advertisements provide 10 tips to identify whether or not a story is real. Some of these include looking for “skeptical headlines” and to “look closely at the URL.”

Since being accused of influencing the American presidential election because of the large amounts of false news being shared on its platform, Facebook has taken several steps to crack down on automated profile pages and political spam.

“We have developed new ways to identify and remove fake accounts that might be spreading false news so that we get to the root of the problem,” said Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy for the UK.

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The company also claims to have removed 30,000 fake accounts ahead of the first round of the presidential election that took place last month, which came to a close on Sunday.

After the election of President Donald Trump, Facebook was widely blamed for the proliferation of fake news on social media platforms. According to a research report from Stanford, 41 per cent of fake news shared during the month of the American presidential election was consumed through social media sources.

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As a result, Facebook has taken several public actions against this trend, beginning with an educational guide launched at the beginning of April to teach users how to spot fake news. In addition, the company says it is working with outside organizations to fact check and analyze around the election.

“With these changes, we expect we will also reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts,” Facebook said in a statement. 

In addition, Facebook has faced a significant amount of backlash from world leaders because of these accusations. After Emmanuel Macron was revealed as the winner of the French presidential election, polish politician Donald Tusk tweeted that he was glad the French had triumphed over the “tyranny [of] fake news.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump has also taken to the term, referring to several media sources (including CNN) as “fake news,” multiple times since taking office.

In addition to fake news, Facebook is attempting to combat the broadcast of violent and harmful videos through its live streaming feature. The company recently announced the hiring of an additional 3,000 people to remove this content.

The UK will head to the polls in a general election on June 8, which Prime Minister Theresa May hopes will win her a majority ahead of her exit deal negotiations with the European Union.

With files from Reuters and the Associated Press. 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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