Facebook announced Thursday it is taking further steps to combat the spread of so-called fake news by using an automated process to flag news stories it deems as suspicious, and let third-party fact-checkers inspect them.

The social media company said it has developed a software algorithm that can identify stories that are considered suspect and provide them to fact-checkers than can the review the post and write a story that either dispels it or gives further context. The post may appear below the original content on Facebook's news feed, the company said in a blog post.

"In addition to seeing which stories are disputed by third-party fact checkers, people want more context to make informed decisions about what they read and share," said Sara Su, Facebook news feed product manager, in a blog posting.

Facebook this year partnered with fact-checkers including Snopes and Politifact to tag and brand stories as false. Those efforts have been criticized by British news outlets that argued that flagging false stories have actually caused them to spread faster.

The company said in a separate statement Thursday that the new fact-checking feature is being launched in the United States, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Facebook has come under fire for being one of the main sources for the proliferation of so-called fake news that many believe had a substantial impact on influencing the 2016 election. In the month's following the election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to make having informed users one of the top priorities of the company.