Facebook considers hand-picked 'high-quality' news section

The phrase 'fake news' has been associated with Facebook since about 2016, when a plethora of dodgy articles based on false information began spreading online in the months before the UK's Brexit referendum and the US election.

The social media giant has been unable to extricate itself from the phrase, as its algorithm actively worked to spread disinformation among the public by pushing dramatic but inaccurate stories on its users, which would often generate more clicks than real reporting.

Now, Mark Zuckerberg hopes to combat the problem by employing real humans to pick and choose which articles his site promotes.

The Facebook CEO is considering introducing a dedicated news section on the website that would only display articles from outlets "broadly trusted" by society. It would appear in a separate section to the news feed, in which news stories currently appear seemingly at random along with posts from friends and 'liked' pages.

Facebook might pay outlets for their inclusion in the news section as a reward for "high-quality, trustworthy content", Zuckerberg told Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Döpfner in an interview.

"I think what we want to do is make sure that this is a product that can get people high quality news," he said.

It may also employ editors who would select accurate stories to be shown to users, rather than an article-promoting algorithm.

In 2016, Facebook fired the people who worked for its Trending Topics section and replaced them with AI, a move that has been widely blamed for exacerbating the problem of fake news.

The news section could be ready to launch by the end of 2019, sources say.

Zuckerberg told Döpfner he imagines between 10 and 20 percent of Facebook's 2.3 billion active users would interact with the news section.

He outlined three principles he wants to apply to the new venture - building the product in a "consultive way", improving monetisation for publishers and fostering an "online ecosystem" in which new, high-quality forms of journalism can thrive.

In another attempt to regain public trust, Facebook recently announced a new feature called 'Why am I seeing this post?' that explains why its algorithm selected certain posts to show certain users.