It seems that Facebook is finally taking up the responsibility for fighting fake news on its platforms.
The social media giant announced a ‘third-party fact-checking program’ in India to counter the spread of false news. This comes days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced lawmakers for a Senate and a House hearing over a host of topics, including false news.
According to the announcement post by Facebook, the company is teaming up with BOOM, a Mumbai-based independent digital journalism initiative that has been working at fighting false news for the two years. Facebook will roll out a pilot program in Karnataka to determine the effectiveness of the program. Facebook added that, “Once a story is rated as false, we have been able to reduce its distribution by 80 percent.” The company claims that this will improve the accuracy of information available on the platform while reducing misinformation.
The blog goes on to add, “We are beginning small and know it is important to learn from this test and listen to our community as we continue to update ways for people to understand what might be false news in their News Feed.”
How does it work?
The company added that once a fact-checker rates a story as false, it will rank the story lower in the News Feed to ensure lesser distribution. This will result in the reduction of hoaxes affecting the number of people seeing the story. The company pointed out that website domains and Facebook pages that repeatedly share false news will be punished with reduced distribution.
Facebook will also take away the punished domain’s ability to advertise and monetise content to ensure that it is not financially lucrative for anyone to spread fake news on Facebook. If third party fact-checkers publish articles debunking false news stories, it will show those stories in a related articles section below the false news story.
In what can be considered as one of its most significant steps in this fight, Facebook will also notify its users and Facebook page administrators if they are trying to share a story or have already shared a story that has been marked as false news. Facebook is working on giving more control to its users to submit feedback on false news stories.
What is BOOM?
To start with, Facebook has partnered with Indian firm BOOM for providing this third-party fact checking. The company is already running such program in the US, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The primary reason for Facebook to start a partnership with BOOM is that “it is one of the only two fact checkers in the country and South Asia” that has been certified by Poynter Institute, the International Fact Checking Network. The certificate was issued on 28 February 2018 and certifies that BOOM is compliant with IFCN principles while showcasing commitment to non-partisanship and fairness along with transparency of sources while maintaining transparency of funding, methodology and organisational structure. This also extends to the commitment of issuing open and honest corrections to any of the fact-checking initiatives that the company undertook.