Facebook to take down fake news and misinformation: Report

By PTI Published on Jul 19, 2018 04:49 PM IST

New York: Facebook has said it will start removing fake news and misinformation after mounting criticism that the flow of rumours on its platform has sparked violence and led to physical harm to people in countries around the world, including in India, according to media reports.

Presently, Facebook bans content that directly calls for violence, but the new policy will cover fake news that has the potential to stir up physical harm, which includes both written posts and manipulated images, CNET reported.

Facebook has been accused of helping to spur violence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. The social network also has drawn intense criticism for its policies surrounding misinformation in general. The social network said last week that it would not ban InfoWars, a right-wing website known for pushing conspiracy theories, the report said.

In India, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is facing the flak for allowing the circulation of large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours and provocation that has led to growing instances of lynching of innocent people.

The company will work with local organisations to help judge which posts fall under that category. If Facebook can't make a definitive call working with one organisation, it might bring in other organizations to help, the report said.

"There are certain forms of misinformation that have contributed to physical harm, and we are making a policy change which will enable us to take that type of content down," a Facebook spokeswoman was quoted as saying. "We will begin implementing the policy during the coming months."

Yesterday, in trying to explain Facebook's stances on fake news, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sparked outrage by saying the company would not ban content from Holocaust deniers from the platform, because, "I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong," he said.

Hours later, he tried to clarify his comments by saying he finds Holocaust denial "deeply offensive," and Facebook would suppress contents like that by making sure fewer people see it on their news feeds.

Facebook has been accused of not doing enough to remove anti-Muslim posts and fake news that is being linked to violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Such fake news and hate online have also added to sectarian violence in Sri Lanka.

As for the new policy on removing misinformation that could lead to violence, Facebook said it has already begun trying it out.

Last month, the company removed content that alleged Muslims are poisoning food that is given and sold to Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Facebook worked with a local group that said the post could contribute to potential violence, and removed the post.