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While Facebook has long been a popular venue to argue bitterly with your family and friends over politics and religion, the Cambridge Analytica scandal upped the ante with the inclusion of Russian propaganda that may have influenced the outcome of the 2016 US election, and the social network's public image has been in recovery mode ever since.

Today, a UK fact-checking organization called Full Fact announced that it's begun a new program on behalf of Facebook to crack down on fake news in the UK, amid growing evidence that the same individuals behind Russia's interference in the 2016 US election were also involved in influencing the UK public to vote to leave the European Union that same year -- the notorious event dubbed "Brexit" by the general public.

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Full Fact can be thought of as a Snopes that's specific to UK politics, and it has worked with the BBC, Sky News and ITV in the past. This is also not the first time that Facebook's entered into such a partnership, as it also hired Agence France-Presse to fight fake news in Canada last summer.

The UK is set to leave the European Union three months from now, but there is still controversy over exactly how that process will be handled -- and concerns that the national dialog has been tainted by more Russian influence on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

In the announcement, Full Fact says, "We'll only be checking images, videos or articles presented as fact-based reporting. Other content, like satire and opinion, will be exempt."

It adds, "We're going to focus on misinformation that could damage people's health or safety, or undermine democratic processes -- everything from dangerous cancer 'cures' to false stories spreading after terrorist attacks or fake content about voting processes ahead of elections."

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Given that opinion-based coverage frequently leverages claims of fact to make arguments, a lack of examination there may undermine the overall effort. However, with only 18 people listed as Full Fact personnel, the group may already have its work cut out for it as it attempts to tackle Facebook in the UK, where about 66 million people call home.

For reference, Agence France-Presse employs between 2,000 and 2,500 people around the world, which sets the stage for better fact-checking for Canada's 36 million citizens.

Full Fact says that it will publish all Facebook UK fact checks on its website and produce a publicly available progress report every 90 days "to give an insight into the nature of social media misinformation -- and to assess how effectively this project is tackling it."

Takeaways

  • A British fact-checking organization called Full Fact announced that it's partnered with Facebook to combat fake news on the social network in the UK.
  • However, with only 18 people listed as staff members, it's not clear how well Full Fact can be expected to handle the sheer volume of fake news that it's likely to encounter.
  • This move comes amid growing evidence that Russia used fake news on social networks in the UK to influence the outcome of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.