Facebook says to tackle 'potential harm' during Israel vote

Facebook came under fresh criticism Tuesday for its hands-off approach to political speech

Facebook said Wednesday it was taking measures to fact-check content and minimise "potential harm" during Israel's elections next month.

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg told a Tel Aviv conference that the social network was committed to "invest in safety in the lead-up to elections in Israel".

That included "minimising potential harm, working with third party fact-checking organisations and setting new standards for ads transparency," Facebook said in a statement about the event, closed to journalists.

Sandberg's visit to the seaside commercial hub came a day after it emerged the platform had paid hundreds of contractors to listen to and transcribe snippets of users' conversations, amid heightened scrutiny of its data collection practices.

Facebook acknowledged the transcriptions, first reported by Bloomberg, telling the news agency that they were made with users' permission, but that the practice has nonetheless been stopped.

Facebook recently settled a record $5 billion fine with the US Federal Trade Commission for misusing users' private data.

Following heightened concern over use of the platform to spread fake stories, Facebook has signed contracts with several media outlets -- including AFP -- aimed at fact-checking widely shared content.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies won the most seats in an April election but failed to forge a viable coalition government.

He then called new elections for September 17.