Eight French media companies have decided to cooperate with Facebook to reduce the presence of false information on the social network. The announcement was made Monday, February 6, by the US company. Facebook has been under significant pressure in recent weeks to fight more against the proliferation of “fake news”, seen by many as a significant element in the election campaign in the United States.
The system is similar to one that was set up in December in the US, with the assistance of five US media companies (ABC News, AP, FactCheck.org , Politifact and Snopes), and the one which will shortly be launched in Germany. In France, the media partners involved are Le Monde, Agence France-Presse (AFP), BFM-TV, Franceinfo, France Médias Monde, L’Express, Libération and 20 Minutes. After France, Facebook plans to continue the rollout in other countries.
The system allows users to report news they believe is false or misleading. The links reported are gathered within a portal, to which the media partners have access. They can then “fact-check” the websites.
If an item is deemed false, it will be marked as “disputed,” along with a justification for the label, and the site will warn users before they share it. Disputed items will also show up lower in Facebook’s algorithmically determined News Feed.
Facebook has repeatedly said that it’s not a media company, but rather an open technology platform that relies on media publishers and its users to share accurate information.
“We do not think of ourselves as editors,” Patrick Walker, Facebook’s head of media partnerships, said during a recent journalism conference in Dublin. “We believe it’s essential that Facebook stay out of the business of deciding what issues the world should read about. That’s what editors do.”
In related news, CrossCheck, a similar platform supported by Google has also announced a trial. CrossCheck will allow the public to submit questions and gather information from 16 French media partners, including again AFP, Le Monde, Libération, FranceInfo and France Médias Monde.
CrossCheck brings together expertise from media and technology industries to ensure hoaxes, rumors and false claims are swiftly debunked, and misleading or confusing stories are accurately reported. With the French presidential election as its primary focus, journalists from organizations across France will work together to find and verify content circulating publicly online, whether it is photographs, videos, memes, comment threads or news sites.