Hours after Google announced it would ban sites that peddle fake news stories from using its advertising network, Facebook has followed suit. The social network announced today that it was now adding fake news sites to the list of sources already barred from using its Facebook Audience Network ads — a list that previously included misleading, illegal, and deceptive sites.
“While implied, we have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. “We vigorously enforce our policies and take swift action against sites and apps that are found to be in violation. Our team will continue to closely vet all prospective publishers and monitor existing ones to ensure compliance.”
Facebook has faced criticism for its role in the US presidential elections — specifically for spreading and perpetuating inaccurate stories dressed up as real news. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the idea fake news on the platform influenced the election is “crazy,” but a number of Facebook employees apparently think differently, with some reportedly organizing a secret “task force” to solve the problem of deliberately misleading stories proliferating on the social network.
By restricting Facebook’s ads, Zuckerberg’s company is at least doing something to combat the issue now, but the move won’t solve the problem outright. Fake stories with inflammatory headlines will still be capable of scoring millions of views, making it financially viable for people to invent news — such as the Pope’s apparent support of Donald Trump — that is patently false.