Facebook Pages Spreading Fake News to Be Blocked from Advertising

Fake news remains one of Facebook’s growing pains. But the social network has been proactively fighting fake news since last fall, when it’s believed falsified news might have had an impact on last year’s U.S. presidential election.

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Fake News Beware

In its latest bold move, Facebook has announced that it will punish pages that share fake news by completely blocking them from buying ads. This new policy seems to be in line with the existing one where Facebook already blocks ads for links having stories that have been labeled false by third-party fact-checkers such as Snopes and AP. The false stories aren’t labeled on the basis of opinion or partisanship; only outright lies and hoaxes are flagged.

In a blog post, Facebook product managers Satwik Shukla and Tessa Lyons say:

“We’ve found instances of Pages using Facebook ads to build their audiences in order to distribute false news more broadly. Now, if a Page repeatedly shares stories that have been marked as false by third-party fact-checkers, they will no longer be able to buy ads on Facebook.”

Fighting Fake News on all Fronts

The company says it has been fighting false news (Facebook has insisted on calling it “false news” because “fake news” has been too politicized) in three ways:

1) ending the economic incentive to create it

2) curbing its spread by building new detection and filtration products

3) helping people make better decisions whenever they come across false stories

Facebook believes this is a step towards “building a more informed community on Facebook.”

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How Many Strikes Before You’re Out?

Facebook hasn’t specified the exact number of “false stories” that a Page would have to share to get blocked from buying ads and that’s probably for the best. Such information could give malicious actors tools to game the system.

The company does explain that the ban isn’t permanent and that a banned Page “may be eligible to start running ads again” if it stops sharing false news.

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