Facebook Inc. is struggling to stamp out fake news.

The company outsources the process to third-party fact checkers who can only tackle a small fraction of the bogus news that floods the social network, according to interviews with people involved in the process. And screenshots obtained by Bloomberg reveal a process that some partners say is too cumbersome and inefficient to stop misinformation duplicating and spreading.

“There is no silver bullet," Facebook said in a statement. "This is part of a multi-pronged approach to combating false news. We have seen real progress in our efforts so far, but are not nearly done yet.”

The flaws highlight a fundamental question that will be asked this week when internet companies testify in front of Congressional committees: How responsible should Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. be for information others distribute through their systems?

Facebook started noticing fake stories trending on its network as early as the summer of 2016, and it took a long time for the company to take any responsibility. A few days after President Donald Trump’s November election win, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said it was "crazy" to think fake news had swayed voters. But as it became clear that some fake political stories garnered more traffic on Facebook than work from traditional outlets, criticism of Zuckerberg’s stance mounted. After reflecting on the problem he said he would prioritize fixing it. His main solution has been the fact-checking effort.

In early 2017, Facebook contracted for one year with PolitiFact, Snopes, ABC News, factcheck.org and the Associated Press to sniff out fake news on its social network. The company argued that paying outside firms helped address the problem without making Facebook the arbiter of what is true or untrue. Some critics say the company wants to avoid this responsibility because that could make it subject to more regulation and potentially less profitable, like media firms.

A previous Facebook effort to hire people to curate articles was criticized as biased and the company’s artificial intelligence systems aren’t yet smart enough to determine what’s suspicious on their own. However, an inside look at Facebook’s fact-checking operation suggests that the small-scale, human approach is unlikely to control a problem that’s still growing and spreading globally.

When enough Facebook users say an article may be false, the story ends up on a dashboard accessible by the fact-checking staff at the five organizations, according to screenshots obtained by Bloomberg that showed a rash of bogus news. A list of questionable stories appears in Facebook’s signature dark blue font, accessible only after the organizations’ journalists log into their personal social-media accounts.

"LeBron James Will Never Play Again," according to Channel 23 News. "BOMBSHELL: Trey Gowdy Just Got What He Needed To Put OBAMA IN JAIL," said dailyworldinformation.com. "Four Vegas Witnesses Now Dead or Disappeared," claimed puppetstringnews.com.

A column to the right of the articles shows how popular they were among Facebook’s 2 billion users, according to the screenshots. In the next column over, fact-checkers can mark it "true," "false," or "not disputed," providing a link to a story on their own websites that explains the reasoning behind the decision.

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