Google and Facebook Launch War on ‘Fake News’ Ahead of French Elections

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By Lukas Mikelionis | 11:16 am, February 6, 2017

Tech giants Facebook and Google have teamed up with French news organizations to launch an initiative to fight fake news stories in France ahead of the country’s presidential elections.

On Monday, Facebook and Google and several media outlets announced an initiative called “Cross Check” to stop the spread of false information. Facebook said it would partner with leading French news organizations, including Agence France-Presse, BFM TV, and newspapers L’Express and Le Monde.

Facebook has been criticized for not doing enough to stop false information being republished on their platform during last year’s U.S presidential election, and has set up measures to tackle the problem.

The initiative in France emerged out of similar concerns that people could spread “fake news” on social media networks during the French presidential campaign that will take place in April and May this year.

The “Cross Check” project is led by First Draft News, according to Tech Crunch, a non-profit organization which counts Google’s News Lab as a founding partner, and claims its missions is to “improve practices in the ethical sourcing, verification and reporting of stories that emerge online.”

“The public will be encouraged to participate by submitting questions and links to disputed sites and social content for CrossCheck to investigate. These questions will all be listed and answered on a dedicated CrossCheck website,” reads an explainer on the website.

“CrossCheck brings together expertise from media and technology industries to ensure hoaxes, rumors and false claims are swiftly debunked, and misleading or confusing stories are accurately reported. With the French presidential election as its primary focus, journalists from organizations across France will work together to find and verify content circulating publicly online, whether it is photographs, videos, memes, comment threads or news sites,” it adds.

Facebook will contribute to the group effort against false information by supporting the vetting platform through “dedicated tools and media literacy efforts that will help to explain the verification process and keep relevant audiences up to date with confirmed and disputed information relating to the election”.

Last month, Facebook also started an initiative against fake news in Germany, fearing possible external influence during a parliamentary election in September.

German lawmakers will also consider a bill that would impose a punitive legal regime to allow fining of social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a “fake news” story up without deleting it.