Facebook is launching a new initiative to combat fake news by requiring verification for large pages and political advertisers.

In a Facebook post last night, Mark Zuckerberg said the social media giant will begin to require people who manage "large" pages to be verified. "This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way," he said.

Zuckerberg said "thousands" of people would be hired to get the verifications up and running in time for the "critical months" before 2018 elections in the US, Mexico, Brazil, India and Pakistan.

Read more: Facebook says data of up to 2.7m Europeans may have been improperly shared

Every advertiser who wants to run political ads on Facebook will also need to be verified now by confirming their identity and location, and advertisers that do not pass will be prohibited from running political ads.

The new rules will be launched in the US and will expand to the rest of the world in the coming months.

Zuckerberg said he is committed to "making sure we support positive discourse and prevent interference in these elections".

He added that Facebook had earlier this week shut down a "large network" of Russia-run fake accounts, including a Russian news organisation.

"Election interference is a problem that's bigger than any one platform," Zuckerberg said.

It comes after Facebook revealed some 87m users may have had their information improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, the bulk of which were based in the US. Facebook has said the firm may have obtained the data of 2.7m EU-based users of the social network.

But it's not the tech giant's first foray into cracking down on fake news.

Facebook introduced fake news flags to highlight articles which were questioned by a group of fact checkers, but it ditched the tool last December, just a year after it first launched, admitting the feature "could sometimes backfire".

Read more: Culture secretary Matt Hancock demands answers from Facebook executives

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