Facebook cuts off ad dollars to Pages that repeatedly spread fake news

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook is cutting off advertising for Pages that repeatedly share stories marked as false by third-party fact checkers working with the platform, according to a company blog post
    .
  • Facebook’s approach here is three-pronged: it’s disrupting the economic incentive to create and share false news stories, it’s building products to curb their spread and it’s helping people make more informed decisions by flagging fake stories down. Pages that get banned from running ads have the opportunity to become eligible to advertise again if they stop sharing news marked as false, however.
  • Facebook has already taken steps to reduce false news and hoaxes shared via its platform, including by not allowing advertisers to run ads that link to stories marked as false by third-party fact checking organizations.

Dive Insight:

There was a point not too long ago when Facebook strongly resisted assuming the responsibilities of a media company, even as its stature as a purveyor of news and information ballooned. Demonetizing Pages deemed to be sharing fake news (or “false” news, as Facebook calls it) shows how far the platform has come in just around a year’s time, and the necessary steps it’s now taking to ensure it retains credibility with users and publishers as well as the brands that provide the bulk of its revenue. For brands, having ads run next to stories that turn out to be misleading or outright hoaxes can be damaging to reputation, so the latest development should be a welcome one.

In late November, after the most recent U.S. presidential election, BuzzFeed News released data that found many of the top performing news stories from election season were from false news websites spreading hoaxes or misinformation. A Forbes analysis speculated at the time that fake news posts might have accounted for up to 50% of Facebook’s ad revenue during that period
.

Facebook, with the latest updates and continuous work to build out its newfangled Journalism Project, has been getting more serious in reassessing how media fits into its broader business. Late last week, the social giant hired

Liz Spayd
, a former editor of The New York Times, in a bid to improve its transparency initiatives.

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