Counter-trolling Facebook launches German projects to combat fake news

Top exec Sheryl Sandberg announced German initiatives to curb misinformation and fund a research institute on the ethics of artificial intelligence in Munich.
Couldn't have said it better.

(Source: REUTERS)

Facebook wants to fight the spread of fake news in Germany and across the European Union ahead of the EU election in May, executive Sheryl Sandberg said. The company will cooperate with the German Federal Office for Information Security “to help better protect elections,” Facebook’s chief operating officer said Sunday at Digital Life Design, a technology event in Munich.

Sandberg, Facebook’s most senior executive after CEO Mark Zuckerberg, also said the social media platform will invest $7.5 million over five years to establish a new artificial intelligence institute at the Technical University of Munich. The new research center will focus on ethical aspects of AI. Facebook uses AI, for instance to delete hate speech and terrorist content.

The Silicon Valley company, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, faced massive criticism last year after revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political consultancy, had illegally accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users. The data was used during Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016. Following the scandal, Germany announced plans to reform its data privacy law and set up a government commission to come up with proposals, which will also look into the use of artificial intelligence.

A new German hate speech law came into force January last year, forcing websites to delete hate speech messages or risk fines of up to €50 million. To be able to comply with the law, Facebook set up a second “deletion center” in Essen last year, adding to one that has been operational in Berlin since 2015.

“Last year we removed thousands of pages, groups and accounts involved in inauthentic behavior so they can’t mislead others about their identity and intentions,” Sandberg said in Munich.

Gilbert Kreijger is an editor with Handelsblatt Today. To contact him: [email protected]