Facebook introduces fact-checking programme to fight fake news; starts pilot in Karnataka

File photo. Photograph:( Others )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Apr 17, 2018, 02.25 PM (IST)

Social networking giant Facebook is introducing a third-party fact-checking programme in India to combat the spread of "false news" on its platform, starting with a pilot in Karnataka, which goes to polls next month.

Facebook said it has partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, for a pilot in Karnataka.

Assembly elections in Karnataka will be held on May 12.

In a blogpost today, the US social networking giant said the programme in India aims "to fight the spread of false news on our platform".

BOOM will review English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy, it said.

Facebook is running similar initiatives in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US.

Over the last few weeks, Facebook has drawn intense criticism from users and governments globally over a number of issues, ranging from false news on the platform to information of over 80 million users being mined by data analytics and political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica.

The Indian government had also questioned both the companies on the impact of the data breach. Facebook had admitted that nearly 5.62 lakh people in India were "potentially affected" by the incident.
Testifying before the US Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said his organisation was committed to ensure integrity of elections across the world, including India.

In its blogpost, the company said it believes that "once a story is rated as false, we have been able to reduce its distribution by 80 per cent, and thereby, improve accuracy of information on Facebook and reduce misinformation".

Facebook has already stated that it will use reports from community along with other signals to send stories to fact-checking organisations.

"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," it said.

Detailing out the process, Facebook said after a story is rated as false by the fact-checker, it will figure lower in News Feed, "significantly reducing its distribution".

"This in turn stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise removed," it said.

This, Facebook said, will help curb the spread of "financially motivated false news".

"We also want to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share by providing the community with more information and control... If third-party fact-checkers write articles debunking a false news story, we'll show it in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed," Facebook said.

Facebook will also send people and Page administrators notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that has been determined to be false.

"While third party fact checking is part of our ongoing efforts to combat spread of false news, we are working hard to improve the accuracy of information on Facebook in various ways," it added.