Facebook and Google combat fake news ahead of elections in Europe

Facebook and Google are ramping up their efforts to combat fake news in Europe after facing criticism that they didn’t do enough to stop misinformation from spreading during the U.S. presidential election.

On Monday, Facebook said it was launching its fact-checking tool in France ahead of the country’s presidential election. The tool, which is also being tested in the United States and Germany, allows users and fact-checking organizations to flag a news story as fake. Users will receive a warning that a news story is being disputed by fact-checkers, which include news organizations such as Agence France-Presse and Le Monde.

Google is also partnering with French journalists to verify online content, including photos and videos. The tech firm and Facebook are part of a new project called CrossCheck. So far, 17 news organizations have joined the project, including AFP, BuzzFeed News and France Télévisions.

“Each participating newsroom will contribute their own experience, resources and regional knowledge to speed and strengthen the verification process, and to ensure that accurate reports reach citizens across the country and beyond,” wrote First Draft News, a nonprofit backed by Google.

While some tech executives have stopped short of saying that fake news swayed the U.S. presidential election, they also acknowledged that they have a responsibility to help stop misinformation from spreading.

“Giving everyone a voice increases diversity of perspectives, but there is more we can do to build a shared perspective — to reduce polarization, sensationalism and misinformation,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post over the weekend.

Meanwhile, tech firms are also facing legal consequences for fake news.

In Germany, a Syrian refugee is suing Facebook in an effort to stop users from reposting a selfie he took with Chancellor Angela Merkel in fake news reports that accuse him of having ties to terrorism, The New York Times reported.

Facebook argues that the lawsuit involves defamation and that it’s the individual who posted the fake story who is liable, not the tech firm.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images


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