In a bid to stop fake news from circulating in India, Facebook has come up with a new solution that amalgamates both technology and human review to alert users about fake news in posts, videos or images shared by users.
To enable fact checks on news stories, Facebook works with third-party fact-checkers platforms, who are certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network to help identify and review false news. It started a third-party fact-checking programme in December 2016. Currently, it has 24 partners in 14 countries, including India. Some of the fact-checking networks include India Today Group, BoomLive, Factly, Vishvas.news, and Fact Crescendo among others.
Last month, the Indian government had also announced the launch of an online portal to curb fake news on social media platforms. It had said that it would not be biased when it came to taking action on political content.
Can Facebook Stop Fake News?
Facebook claims it identifies false news by using signs such as user feedback as well as third-party fact-checking network. If any post has a link that has been rated as false information or fake news, it will automatically be downranked by Facebook’s algorithm which controls the order of posts on the news feed. This, Facebook claims, significantly reduces the number of users who can access the said story or link.
For repeat offenders, Facebook will automatically curtail the reach of the accounts or pages and their ability to promote content.
When users come across posts suspected to have false information, Facebook will notify the status clearly. It says it would also notify users and page admins when they’ve shared posts that are suspected to have fake news.
Facebook marks stories as false news, stating that “the primary claims in the information are factually inaccurate.”
Similarly in another post, where the user has posted an image of a rally, Facebook has marked it as fake, based on the fact-checking done by the third-party network providers.
This new feature from Facebook comes at a time when the Indian government had recently got the approval of Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP) at the Lok Sabha and is likely to be passed in the parliament soon. The new draft of PDP has proposed that social media platforms enable voluntary verification of user accounts, where the account is verified with a visible indicator.
With the increase in hate speech and fake news in the country, the verification of social media accounts has been a major concern for Indians. Facebook, earlier this year, had taken down 2.19 Bn fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, a significant rise from 1.2 Bn accounts compared to last year. It also removed 4 Mn hate speech posts.
(Hat Tip: Security Researcher, Rajshekhar Rajaharia)