As the scrutiny over the online spread of misinformation grows in the aftermath of the U.S. election, Facebook moved Monday to categorically ban websites publishing false news stories from generating revenue with its advertising platform.
The Wall Street Journal reports that fake news has been added to the list of content that disqualifies a website from tapping into the Facebook Audience Network, which allows sites and mobile apps to post display advertisements to visitors, with Facebook sharing some of the generated ad revenue.
“While implied, we have updated the policy to explicitly clarify that this applies to fake news,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Journal, adding that fake news would now come under the umbrella category of misleading, illegal and deceptive sites, which already cannot use the ad network.
The change in policy closely follows a similar move by Google, also announced Monday, which would see websites publishing fake news barred from its advertising network.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement that "pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property" will join the list of websites banned from using Google AdSense, reported Reuters. The report noted that AdSense already restricts ad placement on sites containing pornographic or violent content.
The role of tech giants like Google and Facebook in the spread of untruths and hoaxes online is in the spotlight. While Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't think that the spread of untruths on his network affected the outcome, and doesn't want Facebook to be the "arbiters of truth," others have pointed out the platform's sheer, unprecedented influence as a media entity.
There are no indications that Facebook's latest move would affect the types of content allowed on its own platform's News Feed.