Sunday 15 January 2017 2:43 pm

Facebook steps up fake news fight in Germany as UK MPs consider inquiry

Facebook is stepping up its efforts in the fight against fake news, expanding a recently introduced fact-checking feature to Germany as UK MPs are said to be mulling a full-blown inquiry into the issue.

Users in Germany will be able to flag articles they believe to be false news for fact checking with a third party. Stories with such issues raised will be flagged as "disputed" and have less prominence in users' news feeds.

It comes ahead of key elections in the country and its the first location outside the US where the feature has been implemented after being introduced in December amid growing concerns surrounding the issue of false news being circulated online.

Read more: Facebook and Google have finally taken some action on fake news

Facebook boss and founder Mark Zuckerberg had downplayed the proliferation of incorrect information on the site, saying "99 per cent of what you see on Facebook is authentic".

But Facebook and Google finally took action, saying they will crackdown on the advertising against such fake news stories, which has been cited as an incentive to create outlandish stories for click-throughs.

Meanwhile, an influential group of MPs in the UK are said to be considering official scrutiny of the social network due to concerns that over its effect on democracy.

The culture media and sport select committee is considering launching a full inquiry into the matter, the Telegraph reports, which could see executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter face a grilling.

The committee chairman Damian Collins told the newspaper: “What’s interesting is we've accepted that search engines have a responsibility to combat piracy on their websites. In a similar way, I think social media [companies] have a responsibility to ensure their platforms are not being used to spread malicious content."

Read more: Facebook has explained some of the ways it is trying to tackle fake news

Newspaper executives are being called in for talks over fake news by the digital minister Matt Hancock, it was yesterday revealed.

Politicians have not held back from scrutinising the tech companies before over their efforts to tackle online extremism. In August MPs on the Home Affairs select committee blasted them for "consciously failing" to tackle the encitement of extremism.

The issue of fake news and its influence has caused greater concern after the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. High profile stories such as the promise by leave campaigners that the NHS would get an extra £350m a week if the UK left the EU and the so-called pizzagate conspiracy have put the problem in the spotlight in a year when the word post-truth was chosen as the world of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

But, the thorny issue is not clear cut, and some have started to use the term fake news in regard to stories which they disagree with. At Donald Trump's first press conference the President-elect called CNN fake news.