Facebook fights back at claims of favoured fact checking
Facebook has released its reply to claims made in an article from The Guardian that the platform encourages its fact checking partners to prioritise content surrounding advertisers.
“It appeared that Facebook was pushing reporters to prioritise debunking misinformation that affected Facebook advertisers,” Brooke Binkowski, former editor of Facebook-partnered fact checking service Snopes, tells The Guardian US’ Sam Levin.
“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR. They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care,” says Binkowski.
Fervently denying the claims in a blog post, Meredith Carden, head of news integrity partnerships at Facebook, writes, “we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritise debunking content about our advertisers.
“The primary way we surface potentially false news to third-party fact-checkers is via machine learning, which relies on a number of signals like feedback from people who use Facebook and the number of comments expressing disbelief (e.g., “No way this is real!”).”
Following an explosion of fake news stories and political propaganda on the platform during the 2016 US Presidential Election, Facebook began partnering with news organisations to employ fact checkers. According to Carden, the platform now has 35 media partners in 24 countries, with plans to expand the program further in 2019.
This will have been the second job for Facebook’s clean-up crew in December; last week the ACCC released its highly anticipated preliminary report, examining the market power, influence, monetisation and data collection practices of the technology, media and advertising sectors – Facebook and Google being a primary focus.
“Google and Facebook perform a critical role in enabling businesses, including online news media businesses, to reach consumers. However, the operation of these platforms’ key algorithms determining the order in which content appears is not at all clear,” commented ACCC chair Rod Sims during the preliminary report’s release.
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Image credit: The Climate Reality Project