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Facebook will start paying fact-checkers to fight fake news

Facebook plans to pay fact-checkers to monitor news and spread of misinformation on the platform, the Financial Times reports. “A commercial relationship is something that’s on the table and that we are very open to. It could depend on individual organizations, but we want to engage responsibly and if that means a financial arrangement, we are very open to it,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook vice-president of product management for newsfeed, was quoted by the British daily.

Fact-checking on Facebook

In December 2016, the platform rolled out disputed tag on Facebook and gave users tools to report fake news. A story is checked by five third-party fact-checking websites–ABC News, AP, FactCheck.org, Politifact and Snopes–to verify its veracity after it is reported by users. The platform also cracked down on the ability of spoof domains–sites that pretend to be real publications–to buy ads.

Facebook is running and funding a media literacy campaign too. In January, it started the Facebook Journalism Project to “equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.” The company recently also funded CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s News Integrity Initiative to increase trust in journalism.

In a new blog post Thursday, Mosseri announced the roll out of yet another media literacy campaign to help users spot fake news and misinformation: “We’re featuring this tool at the top of News Feed for a few days to people on Facebook in 14 countries.”

For three days, users in the 14 selected countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas will see a message at the top of their newsfeeds, directing them to a list of 10 tips on identifying false news stories, including verifying web addresses, identifying manipulated photos, inspect grammar, spellings, date of publication and sources etc.

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Facebook’s approach to tackling fake news

Facebook has, so far, steered clear of making any direct interventions in tackling fake news. “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves,” Mosseri wrote in a blog following Donald Trump’s victory. Instead, it has been tweaking its newsfeed algorithm, making tools available to users to report fake news and misinformation, and partnering with third-party organizations to tackle verify information.

The onus of spotting and reporting fake news continues to remain with the users. And verifying and fact-checking has been outsourced to third-party websites in the US and in parts of Europe.

Fact-checking is a capital and resource intensive process. So far, there has been no economic incentive to fact-check misinformation on Facebook. Despite the hype over fact-checking and newsrooms investing in fact-checking, many fact-checking units have shut down because it is economically unviable. Fact-checking might become economically viable if Facebook decides to pay for it.

Also, much of Facebook’s attention has been restricted to the US and Europe. Whereas the misinformation has on the platform has been wreaking havoc across the world. Last year, Buzzfeed reported how fake news on Facebook is aiding Islamophobia and Muslim genocide in Myanmar.  In India, fake news on Whatsapp has led to the consolidation of Hindu zionists who are unleashing communal violence and riots across the country.

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Medianama recently organized a conference on fake news, which saw participation from Facebook, Twitter, policy makers and politicians. Read our coverage here:

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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