An estimated 20 million Britons rely on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread news and entertainment content.
The Government has pledged to clamp down on misinformation, but it has not made a commitment to banning the websites outright.
It will allow the sites to operate under “disclosure controls” that allow them to “advertise and promote” content they believe is genuine, but with the knowledge that it is false.
But many of the sites’ creators fear this will be the start of the end for the sites.
It is a new era for the web. The BBC’s Eliot Higgins reports.
In December, we reported on the rise of “fake news” websites on social media.
These sites spread fake news about celebrities, politicians and the news that has been published in the media, as well as links to alternative news.
This year, we asked Facebook for details of which of its sites were the most active, and found that the sites listed were in fact more active than ever.
“We know that fake news has spread, we have seen it grow,” said Facebook vice president for news and media David Marcus.
“But we also know that we’re seeing it on other social media platforms, and we need to be better at detecting it and taking action to stop it.”
So, what can fake news tell us about the government’s future?
The BBC’s Jonathan Head has been researching and reporting on fake news since 2013, when he became a full-time reporter and blogger.
He has previously explored the role of social media and online communities in spreading misinformation.
Facebook’s Marcus said the site has been a “significant force” in spreading “fake” news for years, and that the UK government has a “very active” investigation into “fake”.
“We are seeing more and more fake news, and it’s a growing threat to the UK’s economy and society,” he said.
“The government has made clear that it does not tolerate misinformation, and so we have to be very careful about what we allow on our platforms.”
We do see that we see some fake news being spread by the sites that we have allowed, and they’re not really trying to deceive anyone.
“But the BBC has found that some of the most prominent sites on Facebook have a history of promoting misinformation and spreading false news about the British people.
As a result, many of them have been forced to shut down their sites.
The UK government says it will allow these sites to continue operating under a “disclosed” structure to “ensure they are not engaging in behaviour that undermines the integrity of the media and the UK economy”.
The BBC has also uncovered some of Facebook’s other fake news sites, including one called “Facebook has removed fake news from its platform” and another called “Fake News Is Not OK”, which posted fake news stories about the UK and US.
These sites have since been taken down, but Marcus has warned that Facebook “will not be able to control” all the fake news it has allowed on its platforms.
The BBC reports that Facebook has “closed a number of fake news pages”, and has been cracking down on those that spread misinformation about the country and its people.
Marcus has also been monitoring social media posts by other fake Facebook accounts, including “Facebook is banning a number more sites”, but has yet to see any action being taken by Facebook on any of them.
Marcus told us: “I think this is a real opportunity to make sure that all platforms are transparent about who’s doing what on their platforms, what their policies are and how they work.
“Facebook itself has been doing a really good job of ensuring that all its platforms are open and transparent about what’s happening on them.”
The UK government will continue to investigate how fake news is spread on Facebook.
The government is currently investigating a number Facebook pages for spreading “incitement to violence”, and for promoting “hate speech”.
However, Facebook says it has been “trying to work out what kind of things they are posting that are not actually hate speech”.