Facebook is taking out ads in major German publications that tell readers how to spot fake news.
On Thursday, full-page ads with tips on how to identify spurious news items appeared in major German papers including Bild and Sueddeutsch Zeitung and Die Welt, according to a Bloomberg report.
Facebook’s move comes a week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government backed legislation that would penalize social networks if they do not offer users a way to complain about fake news and hate speech appearing on their sites or if they fail to take down illegal content. Fines of as much as $53 million could result, under the proposed new law.
Last November, Facebook (FB) chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the notion that fake news appearing in Facebook influenced the U.S. presidential election was “a crazy idea.”
His position has since evolved.
In an interview this week with Fast Company, Zuckerberg vowed Facebook will fight fake news much the way it took on click-bait stories, which are articles that may contain some truth but are overly sensationalized to attract readers. Facebook countered click bait by tweaking its algorithms, and Zuckerberg appears happy with the result.
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Among things that readers can do to separate fake from real news is make sure the URL (or Internet link) of the story appears to be from a legitimate organization and to check other sources to see if they are also reporting the story. Fortune reached out to Facebook for additional comment.
Facebook is not alone in its quest, under pressure, to address fake news. Google (GOOG) has also deployed fact checkers in an attempt to contain fictitious stories, and Twitter (TWTR) has moved to pull the plug on accounts that post hate speech or fake news.
Facebook has also engaged Snopes, a fact-checking specialist, and other approved organizations to flag stories on the site that contain “disputed content.”
Germany, given the growth of neo-Nazi and nationalist sentiment, faces a particularly tough problem when it comes to fake news, which has been used to inflame public opinion against minorities.