December 15, 2016 Last Updated 2:00 pm

Facebook will use third party fact checkers, then flag disputed news

‘We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated’ Facebook’s ‎VP, Product Management said, so some sources may find their ad network accounts suspended

The war on ‘fake news’ on Facebook has begun in earnest with the social network saying that it had created a website where third party partners will help the News Feed team identify, then flag news stories that are in dispute. The move comes after Facebook faced criticism for its posting of so-called ‘fake news’ in its News Feed was seen as influencing voters to believe unfounded conspiracy theories.

“We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles,” said Adam Mosseri, VP, News Feed. “We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations. If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.”

ABC News, the AP, FactCheck.org, Politifact, and Snopes are among those that have access to the website where stories are identified. “AP has long done some of the most thorough fact-checking in the news business,” said Sally Buzbee, AP’s incoming executive editor said this afternoon. “This initiative is a natural extension of that tradition, and of the AP’s long-standing role setting the standards for accuracy and ethics in journalism.”

Beyond being flagged, some stories might also appear lower in News Feed, Facebook said.

The move by Facebook, though, appears to be an effort to address media criticism of News Feed, while also shifting the responsibility to third parties. After Facebook was criticized for supposed bias against right-wing news organizations, it fired its News Feed team and now the costs of monitoring News Feed content will shift from one of the world’s most profitable companies to media companies. Seems like a big win for Facebook.

The most effective solution would be for Google and Facebook to rescind the ad network arrangements for any of the websites it deems a creator of ‘fake news’ – this would strangle off the main reason these sites exist. This could create new problems for these tech giants, but Facebook is looking at this as a solution.

“We’ve found that a lot of fake news is financially motivated. Spammers make money by masquerading as well-known news organizations, and posting hoaxes that get people to visit to their sites, which are often mostly ads,” said Mosseri. “So we’re doing several things to reduce the financial incentives. On the buying side we’ve eliminated the ability to spoof domains, which will reduce the prevalence of sites that pretend to be real publications. On the publisher side, we are analyzing publisher sites to detect where policy enforcement actions might be necessary.

Let’s see how this works, as it is sure that the media will be paying attention.

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