The Financial Times reports that following Angela Merkel’s worries about fake news and misinformation prior to the upcoming German elections, Facebook will begin their fake news monitoring program in Germany very soon. Facebook announced their fake news fact checking program in the US in December, partnering with partisan organisations such as ABC News, Snopes, and Politifact to determine what counts as fake news.
Stories reported on Facebook’s platform as fake news will now be forwarded to Correctiv, a German-based non-profit news organisation. If the news is deemed to be incorrect it will be marked as “disputed” and an explanation for the judgement will be attached. These items will also appear lower on Facebook timelines as items are sorted by Facebook’s algorithm.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a Facebook spokesperson stated that the social media company was searching for other German media partners to help with fact checking. Facebook also stated that Germany was just the first of many countries that they planned to implement their fake news fact checking service in. “Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next,” said the spokesperson.
German politicians have called for a crackdown on fake news for some time now and specifically targeted Facebook in relation to misinformation. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said last November that Facebook should be treated as any other media company and be held responsible for the content on their platform. The German government reportedly previously considered setting up their own bureau to monitor fake news, according to German newspaper Deutsche Welle.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas has previously stated that fake news was a “danger to our culture of debate” and that social media companies had a duty to curb the spreading of misinformation. “It can’t be in Facebook’s interest that its platform is misused in order to spread lies and hate campaigns,” Maas told Deutsche Welle. “Criminal content should be deleted immediately once it has been reported. And it must be easier for users to report fake news.”