Facebook is tackling fake news by rolling out a flagging plan that triggers fact-checking by hand-picked fact-checkers. Admittedly going after “the worst of the worst”, they enlist the help of Snopes, ABC News and PolitiFact who have all signed on to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). This sounds like great start. The stories get flagged and move to the fact checkers who can dispute it. The story can still be shared but will come with a warning. This evades the “censorship” label Facebook wouldn’t want hanging over their heads and the third-parties serve as arbiters. This process brings up a few points to expand upon.
What of newz or pseudo-news generation sites that some people find entertaining while others consider them real news? What if it’s celebrity gossip? A rumor? And how will they deal with stories that have a kernel of truth but it is no longer recognizable as reputable news such as Natural News run by Mike Adams, Breitbart content, and almost all of The Sun which all benefit greatly from clicks derived via Facebook and do damage with misinformation? It’s unclear how well this setup will work and if it puts a dent in the worst offenders.
Facebook said in these early experiments it would deal with only fake news content and did not plan to flag opinion posts or other content that cannot be easily classified. Satirical sites like The Onion, which often jabs at political subjects through tongue-in-cheek humor, will not be affected by the changes.
The Poynton’s IFCN is currently a short list but may represent sources of news that could rank higher in credibility than most others. Since Facebook announced they are using sources off this list, there appears to have been a rush to apply to get on it so they are changing their application process. The outlets who make the list must abide by rules of fairness, transparency of sources, funding, and methodology and to printing timely corrections. Each site approved submits a yearly progress report. That sounds good to me! I’m going to start following ABC News and I commend them for stepping up. I hope others do too.
I’m wondering what President Trump will think of the IFCN list or the Facebook flagging process if those in the manufactured news biz who helped kick up his support base are labeled as fake. And, hmm, what will the fact-checkers make of the incoming President’s claims?