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Facebook adds fact-checkers

Ahead of polls, effort to combat fake news

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 12.02.19, 12:50 PM
  • Updated 12.02.19, 12:50 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
On Thursday, Facebook said that political advertisements on its platform would carry a “disclaimer” offering details about those running the ad. iStock

Facebook said on Monday that it had expanded its third-party fact-checking programme in India as part of efforts to combat the spread of “fake news” on its platform ahead of the general election.

It said it had added to its roster of fact-checkers entities such as the India Today Group and Factly, which will review articles, photos and videos to “help identify and take action against more types of misinformation”.

“Starting today, India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile and Fact Crescendo, all of whom are certified through a non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, will review news stories on Facebook for facts, and rate their accuracy,” a Facebook statement said.

It said this would be done for content in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi.

“We are committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 general election,” Facebook India’s news partnership head, Manish Khanduri, said.

“And one way to do that is by growing our partnership with third-party fact-checkers. We now have seven partners across the country covering six languages….”

Once a fact-checker rates a story as false, it is shown lower in the news feed, reducing its distribution by up to 80 per cent, the statement said. This “stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it”.

Besides, pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will see their distribution reduced and their ability to advertise removed, helping curb the spread of financially motivated false news.

Khanduri said these efforts were part of a long-term commitment “because the tactics used by bad actors are always changing”.

“So we are trying to take action in the short term, but also invest in partnerships, tools and technology we’ll need to stay ahead of new types of false news as well,” he said.

The Indian government has warned social media platforms of punishment if any attempt is made to influence the country’s electoral process in underhand ways.

The government proposes to amend its IT rules to make social media, online platforms and messaging apps more accountable and force them to use tools to identify and curb unlawful content and follow stricter due diligence practices.

Over the past few months, social media players like Facebook, Twitter and Google have promised to inject more transparency into political advertisements on their platform.

On Thursday, Facebook said that political advertisements on its platform would carry a “disclaimer” offering details about those running the ad.

Among steps that Facebook and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) have taken to combat rumours and fake news are sensitisation programmes for users.

Since last April, Facebook has been partnering various entities, such as Boom and the news agency Agence France-Presse, to bolster its efforts to clamp down on manipulated posts. 

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