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Facebook tells UK users how to spot fake news in full-page print ads

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The ads debuted in a number of papers just a month before the general election

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An ad from Facebook and fact-checking charity Full Fact in The Guardian on Monday 8th.
Photo by James Vincent / The Verge

Facebook is moving its campaign against fake news off the web and into print. This week, the social media network has taken out full-page ads in a number of British newspapers (including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times), warning readers to think twice about stories they see in their News Feed.

The ads offer the same advice that the social network has highlighted online. Users are told to “be skeptical” of headlines they read, especially if they include “shocking claims” that “sound unbelievable.” Readers should also look out for “look-alike URLs” says Facebook and its partner, fact-checking charity Full Fact, and try to corroborate the story they’re reading with other outlets’ reports. The ads end with the tagline: “Together, we can limit the spread of false news.” Facebook itself is not mentioned, apart from the inclusion of the company’s logo at the top of the page.

The ads are appearing in UK newspapers a month before the country’s general election on June 8th. Facebook has been criticized for letting fake news proliferate on its network, and many commentators believe that this phenomenon has had a malicious effect on politics, sowing distrust and deepening partisan divides. Facebook ran similar print ads warning against fake news in France last month, just before the country’s presidential election this weekend, in which centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron beat the far-right Marine Le Pen.

Facebook’s director of policy in the UK, Simon Milner, told the Financial Times: “People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we. That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news. To help people spot false news, we are showing tips to everyone [...] how to identify if something they see is false.” As well as its full-page ads the, company also says it’s deleted “tens of thousands” of fake UK accounts that were spreading spam and fake news.