Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Facebook Buys Full-Page Ads in Germany in Battle With Fake News

  • Angela Merkel pressuring social media company to do more
  • German government pressing ahead with fines for fake news

Facebook Inc. published full-page ads in Germany’s biggest newspapers advising readers on how to detect fake news, after Angela Merkel’s government pressured the company to do more to combat such content on its network.

The ads, which were printed Thursday by dailies including the mass-selling tabloid Bild as well as Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Axel Springer SE’s Die Welt, contains 10 tips how users can identify news as fake.

“Fake news can be identified as such,” the ad reads, which will also be appearing in Der Spiegel’s print and online product. “We fight their spread and are giving you some tips how you can recognize whether a news item is true or not.”

Merkel’s governing coalition has been upping the pressure on social networks to curb the spread of fake news and malicious posts ahead of Germany’s federal election on Sept. 24. Her Cabinet last week backed a bill that threatens social networks with fines of as much as 50 million euros ($53 million) if they fail to give users the option to complain about hate speech and fake news, or refuse to remove illegal content.

The ad’s tips, which include advice on scrutinizing the headline and the URL of a source, and to look for other stories on the same topic, are also being pushed to Facebook’s more than 29 million users in Germany, said Klaus Gorny, a spokesman for the company. He declined to comment on the budget for the ads.

A page in Bild costs about 500,000 euros, and a page in Die Welt about 50,000 euros, according to Axel Springer’s Media Impact agency.

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