Facebook has announced third-party fact-checking for local news in India. The announcement is aimed to fight the spread of false news on Facebook ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in the state of Karnataka. The social media giant has partnered Mumbai-based BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative for this pilot program.
In a blog post, Facebook says it has been able to limit the distribution of a false story by 80 percent once it has been rated as false. BOOM has been certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, a non-partisan international fact checking network at pointer. Starting today, BOOM will be able to review all English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy.
“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,” Facebook notes in the blog.
How Facebook’s fact checking works?
When a fact-checker rates a story as false or misleading on Facebook, the social media network will immediately reduce its distribution in the News Feed. Facebook says it will significantly reduce the distribution, which in turn, will stop the false news from being seen by a number of people.
Facebook will also de-rank pages and domains that share such false news, and most importantly, it will remove their ability to monetize and advertise on the platform. Considering that most pages spread such false news with a financial motive and earn incentives based on reach and engagements, Facebook wants to limit these pages from making financially motivated false news by demonetizing their work.
Facebook will also show articles written by third-party fact-checkers that debunk a false news story in the Related Articles section immediately. This will be reflected below the story in News Feed. People and Page Admins will receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that has been determined to be false.
The announcement is part of an ongoing effort from Facebook to limit spread of false news on its platform. The efforts have gained strength after it was discovered that Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) successfully planted false information on Facebook and could have helped change the course of US Presidential election in 2016.
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“After we were slow to identify the Russian information operations in 2016, this has become a top priority for our company — to prevent that from ever happening again, especially this year, in 2018, which is such an important election year with the U.S. midterms, but also major elections in India, Brazil, Mexico, Hungary, Pakistan and a number of other places,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told US Congress during his testimony last week.
In addition to fact-checking for news articles, Facebook also plans to give priority to local news organizations on the News Feed. It plans to give users more control and let them choose which news organizations they trust and will add an option to give feedback when they see false news. Facebook also says its AI systems have been able to pull down a lot of propaganda or fake messages on the platform even before users see them and with local fact-checking, it might be able to further limit the spread of false news.