Facebook launches new tool to alert users to fake news stories

Facebook launched the new tool on Thursday: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook is cracking down on the spread of fake news with a new tool which helps users spot bogus stories.

From Thursday, a new prompt will appear at the top of the News Feed entitled "How to spot false news". This will offer users tips and advice on how to recognise fake news stories and prevent them from spreading.

The social network says it has worked in consultation with news literacy and fact-checking organisations, including Full Fact in the UK, to create the new guidance.

Users will be told to check the web address of a site posting a story, investigating the source and to look for other reports on the same topic as part of the new list of tips.

The new tool will help users spot fake news stories (PA)

Adam Mosseri, the social network's News Feed boss, said: "We know people want to see accurate information on Facebook - and so do we.

"False news is harmful to our community, it makes the world less informed, and it erodes trust. It's not a new phenomenon, and all of us - tech companies, media companies, newsrooms, teachers - have a responsibility to do our part in addressing it."

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the platform following the US election in November when it was claimed by some that the presence of fake news stories surrounding Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump could have influenced some voters.

"Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes," he said.

"That said, we don't want any hoaxes on Facebook. Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news.

"We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here."

Facebook also said it is working on "disrupting economic incentives" around the spread of fake news.

The social network said it was taking steps to make it more difficult for those posting fake news stories to purchase adverts on Facebook's platform.