Social media behemoth Facebook announced plans to combat fake news stories spreading across their website today. Recently, Facebook has faced a lot of criticism for failing to prevent the proliferation of fake news stories on their website.

Combating fake news

On Thursday, Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced that users of the social network will be able to flag items on their News Feed that they find suspicious. Facebook said that they will be working closely with fact-checking organisations such as Snopes, ABC News,, Politifact and the Associated Press to ensure the veracity of stories appearing on users' News Feeds.

If fact-checking organisations determine a story isn't authentic, Facebook said, it will get flagged as "disputed" and there will be a subsequent article published that explains why the story isn't true. Facebook added that once a story is flagged, it cannot be promoted and will, consequently, be lower down in users' News Feeds.

Prior to the U.S. election, Facebook users were exposed to erroneous reports claiming that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump and that a member of the FBI investigating Hillary Clinton had been found dead. Many of the fake news stories appearing on Facebook during the presidential election campaign were traced back to Eastern European teenagers, who were profiting from the spread of fake news.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to dismiss suggestions that Facebook was to blame for Donald Trump's presidential win, labeling the notion as a "pretty crazy idea". Today's announcement marks a clear change in tact for Facebook, who have around 1,000,000,000 active accounts.

Historically, Facebook has relied primarily on users to report offensive or inaccurate stories.

However, these reports were subject to Facebook's "community standards" as opposed to being rigorously checked by a third party.

In a blog post, Adam Mosseri, the VP of Facebook's News Feed, said: "We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot be the arbiters of truth ourselves, so we're approaching the problem carefully. We've focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain".