Social media giant Facebook, which has over 30 million users in the UK, is to step up security and crack down on unauthenticated accounts to prevent to the spread of “fake news” in the run-up to the UK general election, June 8.

Facebook has joined forces with FullFact to monitor accounts and news stories to “live fact check” posts on user accounts.

“In recent years, we’ve continued to make progress in these areas. We made it significantly more difficult for people to sell fake likes on Facebook, and developed sophisticated systems to help block automated programs (or ‘bots’) from trying to create fake accounts,” said Shabnam Shaik, a Technical Program Manager on the Facebook Protect and Care Team.

​”Overall, our security systems run in the background millions of times per second to help block suspicious activity. By constantly improving our techniques, we also aim to reduce the financial incentives for spammers who rely on distribution to make their efforts worthwhile. But we know we have to keep getting better,” she said.

“These changes help us detect fake accounts on our service more effectively — including ones that are hard to spot. We’ve made improvements to recognize these inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself. For example, our systems may detect repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent.”

The FullFact website says that “fake news” stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. “If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are,” the site states.

“False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from,” the website says.

“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,” a Facebook spokesman told the London Guardian newspaper.

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