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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Anti-fake news banners to appear on UAE Facebook accounts

Social media platform and National Media Council in deal to raise awareness of the spread of false information

The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen. Thomas White / Reuters
The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen. Thomas White / Reuters

Alerts warning of the spread of fake news will pop up on the feeds of UAE Facebook users as part of a deal with the authorities to combat false information.

The social media platform has joined with the country's National Media Council to make users aware of spurious news sites and fake stories.

The public will begin seeing newspaper advertisements urging them to question the credibility of news or information they see on social media.

Tn the coming days, a tool will also appear at the top of the 'news feed'.

When people click on this tool, they will see more information and resources in the Facebook Help Centre. This includes tips on how to spot false news, such as checking the URL of the site, investigating the source and looking for other reports on the topic.

“The issue of false news is one that has increased in prominence with the explosion in use of social media in recent years," said Mansour Al Mansouri, director-general of the media council.

"False news can have a political dimension where one party posts false information designed to damage another party, or it can have a financial dimension, with sensationalist or misleading material being deliberately posted. It could also be combination of elements, but the bottom line is always the same – the truth suffers. People end up believing falsehoods, which can have serious consequences on a personal as well as societal level."

He said the aim is to prevent consumers from being "fed lies and disingenuous information".

Mr Al Mansouri said that the country’s tough electronic media regulations, such as the cybercrime laws governing what can and can't be said on social media, act as a deterrent to those who might deliberately misleading information.

"Teaming up with Facebook represents one of the tools to tackle those from outside the UAE who wish to post falsehoods that undermine community cohesion,” he added.

Nashwa Aly, head of public policy for the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan at Facebook, said the company is making "significant investments in people and technology".

“Protecting our community is more important than profitability and because these challenges go beyond Facebook, we are working with governments to tackle some of these most difficult problems. Keeping people informed and curbing the spread of trends like false news on our platforms is our goal. Through our work with the NMC, we aim to raise awareness so that people can make more informed decisions when they are reading and encounter things like false news on Facebook.”

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