The European Elections have begun, and it’s not just political candidates that are under scrutiny, but social media is as well. Facebook and Twitter are under intense pressure to do everything they can do stop the spread of fake news.
Social media now plays a large role in our lives, from the products we choose right down to the candidates we elect.
Research by the Oxford Internet found that what it called “junk news” was far less prevalent on Twitter and Facebook than stories from reliable news sources, CNN reports.
With information social media users are sharing across seven languages ahead of the vote, the research found that individual fake news stories are more likely to be shared than information from mainstream news organisations.
Professor Oleksander Talavera of Birmingham University reported to BBC that while there has been an increase in Twitter bots tweeting about Brexit, Twitter is very effective about shutting these accounts down when they break the rules.
Twitter, Facebook and Google have taken the threat of fake news seriously and have all taken extra steps to ensure that its spread is stopped.
During the campaign, all ads must meet certain standards before being approved on networks:
• Submitters must live in the European Union
• Ads must be clearly labelled with who paid for the advert
• Adverts will be stored in a searchable archive to promote transparency
Twitter has rolled out a new feature to make it easier to stop people who share wrong information with others on how to vote, and Facebook has expanded its fact checking network.
Social networks are waking up to these issues and are doing everything in their power to prevent the spread of fake news. A much harder issue is how to stop fake accounts being set up. These can spring up quickly and amplify false and misleading information.