Facebook arguably has made its biggest move yet to deter certain publishers from posting fake news after announcing that Pages will be blocked from advertising on the platform if they repeatedly share false stories. The social media giant said that the new policy will not only curb the spread of fake content but also help build a “more informed community.”
The company is now aiming to fight fake news on three fronts. It wants to disrupt the economic incentives for those who continue to create it, build new products that limit its impact and continue to educate and inform users so that they can make better decisions about how they consume articles and videos on the site.
Facebook has ramped up its crackdown on fabricated sources this summer. It recently updated its algorithm to deprioritise any content shared by individuals posting 50 or more articles a day that are deemed to be either sensationalist or misinformative in nature. Facebook has also blocked ads that link to these stories and has stepped up its fact-checking efforts. It now hopes that this latest measure will ensure that users can source high-quality content in their news feeds.
“We’ve found instances of Pages using Facebook ads to build their audiences in order to distribute false news more broadly,” Facebook said in a blog post. “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. If Pages stop sharing false news, they may be eligible to start running ads again.”
Fake news and extremist content has been a major issue for the industry this year following YouTube’s ad debacle last spring and concerns raised by independent bodies about the ease with which misinformation is being allowed to spread in social spaces. The trend began in late 2016, when it was said to have played a role in influencing public opinion in the run-up to the US Presidential Election.
Google and Facebook have been working hard to assure advertisers and publishers that their platforms are safe for everyone. Facebook has refused to share any information about the financial impact of concerns about fake news, but the company still earned $9.32 billion (£7.19 billion) during the second quarter of this year, with the lion’s share of that figure coming from mobile advertising.