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After rejig, Facebook users will get fake news alerts

Facebook started a pilot fact-checking program in Karnataka last year through a partnership with fact-checking portal Boom, followed by one with Vishvas-.News. The company will also act against pages that ‘repeatedly share false news’ and reduce both the moneymaking potential of such pages and their advertising revenue.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 12, 2019, 08.01 AM IST
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BENGALURU: Social media giant Facebook has revamped a programme that checks for fake news on its platform, with users now being alerted to such posts as soon as they view it.

Facebook started a pilot factchecking program in Karnataka last year through a partnership with fact-checking portal Boom, followed by one with Vishvas-.News. The company will now also check facts in partnership with AFP India, Fact Crescendo, Factly, Newsmobile Fact Checker, The Quint and India Today Fact Check.

Facebook said in a blog post that it will use “both technology and human review to remove fake accounts, promote news literacy and disrupt the financial incentives of spammers”. The fake news posts will be rated as ‘false, mixture, false headline, opinion, satire’, among other definitions. The initiative will be rolled out in as many as 12 languages. The company had earlier tested the same in countries such as Singapore and the Netherlands.

Facebook did not respond to ET’s queries seeking details of the programme till press time on Wednesday. Facebook will first identify the fake news, review its content and then narrow down its reach.

The company will also act against pages that ‘repeatedly share false news’ and reduce both the moneymaking potential of such pages and their advertising revenue.

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Advertising budgets and revenues will take a hit if pages that peddle fake news are removed, said Karthik Srinivasan, a communications consultant. “Many (political) parties and others share their agenda or posts through such pages. If these pages start being removed, these parties are bound to be hit,” Srinivasan said.

Facebook will, however, exempt posts from politicians. “If a claim is made directly by a politician on their page, in an ad or on their website, it is considered direct speech and ineligible for our third-party factchecking programme,” it said. However, Facebook wrote that, “when a politician shares a specific piece of content — i.e. a link to an article, video or photo created by someone else that has been previously debunked on Facebook — we will demote that content, display a warning and reject its inclusion in ads.”

The new fact-checking programme “will help in removing fake news and create more awareness among citizens. This will also help law enforcement agencies to trace offenders,” said Rajshekhar Rajharia, a cybersecurity expert who assists the police in solving cases related to cybercrime.

Political parties hire people to create fake news posts and Facebook has become the main platform to spread such stories, said a social media expert who did not wish to be named.

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