Facebook accidentally declared a number of its users dead on Friday - including its founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Reports said that around two million profiles were memorialised - a process that usually takes place after a user has died and requires proof of death.

A spokesman for Facebook told the AFP news agency: "For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialised profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts.

"This was a terrible error that we have now fixed."

The message on affected profiles expressed hope that people who loved the user would take comfort in posts people had shared in tribute.

It also contained links to forms that could be used to have people's accounts modified into memorials after their death.

The mistake comes amid accusations that Facebook helped spread misinformation during the US election by allowing the sharing and re-sharing of fake news stories.

At a technology conference in California, Mr Zuckerberg said: "The idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way I think is a pretty crazy idea.

"I do think there is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news."