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Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Hits Pages and Business Listings

August 28, 2017, 5:44 PM UTC

Facebook’s battle against fake news has spread to business listings.

Organizations that link to news stories deemed to be false from their Pages listing will no longer be allowed to advertise on Facebook, the social network said Monday.

Companies, brands, celebrities, and other groups use Facebook’s Pages feature as their public profiles on Facebook.

Facebook said that it discovered certain groups using Pages as a way to spread fake news, although it didn’t say which organizations were doing so. Leading up to and after the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump, numerous organizations and individuals have used Facebook as a way to distribute bogus or misleading news stories.

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One recent example of a fake news story that became a viral hit includes one about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger losing some of his fingers in a 4th of July fireworks accident, according to David Mikkelson, the founder of fact-checking site Snopes.

Although Facebook repeatedly underplays the prevalence of fake news on its service, it has been steadily debuting new features intended to stop users from sharing fraudulent stories. The company recently partnered with third-party groups like Snopes, the Associated Press, and ABC News to identify stories proven to be fake and posts warnings about the accuracy of those news stories to its users.

Still, as the Guardian reported in May, Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news isn’t full proof, and some fake news stories that Facebook flagged with warnings got more popular because certain people felt Facebook was trying to silence information they believe to be true.

Now Facebook is trying to combat fake news by penalizing fake news influencers that want to make money selling Facebook ads. If these groups use their Pages listing to “repeatedly shares stories that have been marked as false by third-party fact-checkers, they will no longer be able to buy ads on Facebook,” Facebook said.

However, if these groups decide to stop spreading fake news, Facebook said, “they may be eligible to start running ads again.”

“Today’s update helps to disrupt the economic incentives and curb the spread of false news, which is another step towards building a more informed community on Facebook,” the company wrote in a blog post.