On September 24, Facebook announced that it will continue to exempt ads and content from politicians from fact-checking, even if they violate the site’s hate speech rules or other policies, as such content is “newsworthy”. This reiteration of Facebook’s existing policy came from Nick Clegg, its head of global affairs and communications, as he delivered a speech in Washington, D.C. on the steps Facebook is taking to safeguard the 2020 US election. What this means: Organic content and ads from politicians are not sent to Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners for review. Why are politicians exempted from Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme? Because Facebook believes it is not the company’s job to “referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny”. What about shared content? Clegg said that when a politician shares previously debunked content, the platform will “demote that content, display related information from fact-checkers, and reject its inclusion in advertisements”. Is this a new rule? Clegg wrote that this policy has been in effect for over a year now. As per Facebook’s fact-checking content eligibility guidelines, content that is from a website or a page whose primary purpose is to “express the opinion or agenda of apolitical figure” is rated “Not Eligible” by the third-party fact-checker. Note that the content is still sent for review and “newsworthy Facebook posts” are eligible for fact-checking. What is the newsworthiness exemption? Since 2016, Facebook has allowed items that people find “newsworthy” on…
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