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Facebook To Introduce Regional Initiatives To Target Fake News

Facebook will soon launch a Public Service Announcement in the region to educate the public and create awareness about fake news, a senior official of the social media firm has said. Nashwa Aly, Head of Public Policy in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Facebook said the announcement will be on the lines of similar projects it has undertaken around the world and will be combined with other initiatives such as training for journalists and programmes undertaken with news organisations in the region.

Speaking at a session titled ‘The Creation of Fabrication’, on the final day of the Arab Media Forum at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, Nashwa Aly said Facebook is using tools such as machine learning to detect fake news. This has worked well so far in dealing with the problem.

“We use machine learning to uncover coordinated behaviour and take action on unusual behavior, not the content of the post,” said Aly, adding that Facebook is working on multiple other ways to prevent fake news from spreading including identifying such users and stopping them, removing the economic incentives, downranking them by making changes to the news feed, and empowering the community.

“We are not content creators. We do not make news. We are only a platform. We have a responsibility towards our users to make sure that they are consuming correct and accurate information. Our consumers, especially news consumers, expect the news to be valid and unbiased,” she said.

However, she also pointed out that users in the region found Facebook as a trustworthy news source. Quoting a recent survey by the National Media Council, she said 26 per cent of respondents considered Facebook to be a trustworthy news source compared to 30 per cent for TV and 8 per cent for Print.

Urging the need for the community to be empowered she said, “They have to do their homework and be able to tell the difference between fake news and genuine news.”

To that effect Facebook, she said, is attempting to give its users more context about news stories so they can make more informed decisions about what to read, trust and share.

The 17th edition of the Arab Media Forum was held under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The two-day event brought together more than 3,000 prominent regional and international media figures and thought leaders.

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