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Facebook is Cracking Down on Fake News, With an Eye on Crucial 2019 General Elections in India

The other big change will prevent publishers who have already been banned or have had their page taken down, from operating another page to circumvent the ban.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:January 25, 2019, 11:48 AM IST
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Facebook is Cracking Down on Fake News, With an Eye on Crucial 2019 General Elections in India
File photo. (Reuters)
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Popular social media platform Facebook has announced that it is changing the way it handles violations of policies when it comes to fake or incorrect news being published on its platform. The specific focus this time around are the Pages that publishers and news sources have on the social network. Facebook has confirmed that there will be a third-party fact checker involved in the process, for flagging off fake news or misinformation.

The other big change will prevent publishers who have already been banned or have had their page taken down, from operating another page to circumvent the ban.

From now onwards, the social network is changing the way how it handles and communicates violations of the content guidelines and policy around the publishing of fake news and misinformation, with the goal of preventing publishers that operate large networks of pages and groups from skirting bans. “We’ve long prohibited people from creating new Pages, groups, events, or accounts that look similar to those we’ve previously removed for violating our Community Standards. However, we’ve seen people working to get around our enforcement by using existing Pages that they already manage for the same purpose as the Page we removed for violating our standards,” says Facebook in an official statement.

The way the social network plans to address this is that whenever they remove a Page or group for violating the content policies, they will now also remove other Pages and Groups even if that specific Page or Group has not met the threshold to be unpublished on its own. This may be quite complex to implement, but Facebook says that they will look at similar sets of information, such as whether the same people are the administrators on that page as well, whether it has a similar name and whether it is posting the same content too.

Facebook is also adding a Page Quality tab for Page administrators to better understand how the pages they manage match up to the content and quality guidelines put in place by the social network. “We’ll be providing more information in the Page Quality tab over time. To start, we’re including content removed for policies like hate speech, graphic violence, harassment and bullying, and regulated goods, nudity or sexual activity, and support or praise of people and events that are not allowed to be on Facebook,” says Facebook.

Facebook, along with the other social media platform Twitter, have been at the receiving end of governments and lawmakers in many countries, for not being able to crack down on the spread of fake news and misinformation on the social media platforms. Lawmakers in the US have often claimed that Facebook, since it was unable to check the spread of misinformation, may have been instrumental in swaying the verdict of the 2016 elections. This move therefore becomes all the more relevant, with the 2019 general elections in India now round the corner, and the US also gearing up for its next presidential elections in the year 2020.
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