Facebook has launched a campaign to crack down on fake news in France, ahead of the country’s presidential election later this year. As Reuters reports, the social network announced on Monday that it will work with eight French media companies to fact-check and filter news articles that have been reported by users.
According to Le Monde, one of Facebook’s partners, the French campaign is similar to an initiative that Facebook launched in the US late last year, and in Germany last month. Both Facebook and Google faced widespread criticism for allowing fake news to spread during the US presidential election, and European leaders have expressed concern that such misinformation could impact upcoming elections across the continent.
Under the system, if an article is reported as false by users, it will be sent to a portal that all eight media companies have access to, according to Le Monde. If at least two of the companies confirm the article as false (with links to support their claims), the content will be flagged as disputed in Facebook’s News Feed, and users will see a warning before they share it. Advertising against the article will also be blocked, Le Monde reports.
Some media companies were reluctant to sign on to Facebook’s campaign
In addition to Le Monde, Facebook’s French partners include Agence France-Presse (AFP), BFM-TV, Franceinfo, France Médias Monde, L’Express, Libération, and 20 Minutes. Facebook also announced that it will support CrossCheck — an initiative that will allow users to submit questions and gather information from 16 French media partners. CrossCheck was launched by the First Draft News coalition, with support from the Google News Lab.
Some French media outlets have already their launched their own initiatives to combat fake news. Le Monde has compiled a database of more than 600 websites deemed to be unreliable, and the left-leaning newspaper Libération is working to create a similar database of false stories.
In its report on the launch of Facebook’s initiative, Le Monde said that French media companies had been reluctant to partner with the social network, amid concerns that the program would place too great a burden on their fact-checking teams. But the newspaper and other companies ultimately decided to sign on, in part because Facebook said that its algorithms could limit the visibility of articles flagged as false.
“That’s what convinced us to join,” said Jérôme Fenoglio, Le Monde’s editorial director. “For the first time, it’ll be possible to tweak the algorithm if there’s an editorial issue with a post.”
Le Monde described the Facebook initiative as an “experiment,” and that its early results will be assessed in two months. The first round of France’s presidential elections will be held in April, with the second round slated for May.