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Real news about fake news: Facebook ramps up its partnerships with fact-checking sites

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Real news about fake news: Facebook ramps up its partnerships with fact-checking sites

Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab | August 04, 2017

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Facebook is paying its fact-checkers now (and giving them more work). Facebook rolled out an update this week that will surround popular articles in the News Feed with related articles — “part of Facebook’s strategy to limit the damage of false news without censoring those posts,” reports The Wall Street Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman. The article also notes that Facebook has started paying its fact-checking partners (like Snopes and PolitiFact), who “will start seeing more articles in their queues.”

“We don’t want to be and are not the arbiters of the truth. The fact-checkers can give the signal of whether a story is true or false,” Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons told TechCrunch’s Josh Constine.

The amount of work that the fact-checkers do for Facebook seems to vary. USA Today’s Rachel Sandler spoke to some of them:

Aaron Sharockman, the executive director of Politifact, told USA Today he sees about 200 flagged stories per day. A small amount of those stories are patently false, he said. The rest are either completely true stories reported by trolls or misleading — but not necessarily false — hyper-partisan clickbait…

Lori Robertson, managing editor at FactCheck.org, told USA Today the organization debunks between two and three articles per week for the Facebook partnership. She added that the partnership with Facebook has made the nonprofit shift more resources to debunking fake viral claims.

Similarly, Sharockman said Politifact fact checks one or two fake stories per day for Facebook. The Associated Press does “a handful a week, often many more,” said AP social media editor Eric Carvin. ABC News has debunked a total of two dozen stories since January.

‘We’re seven people total and we’re also fact checking a White House that’s certainly making a lot of news, so we’re getting to one or two things, but we’re only getting to one or two things,’ Sharockman said. ‘That means it may take a few days before we get to fact check even a popular story.’

It does seem to be working. Paul Horner, who owns more than a dozen fake news sites (like St. George Gazette, ABC.com.de, and CNN.com.de), told USA Today, “There’s definitely been a huge change, a dramatic change. It’s hurt my wallet for sure with how difficult it is now to get something to go viral and people so quick to call things fake news.”

Guys, haven’t you been listening? It’s easy to spread fake news German researchers find it surprising that it was so easy to create a far-right fake news blog (“one false story claimed that asylum seekers were having free sex with prostitutes funded by a local council”) that got traction. “It was striking that our Facebook profile was never questioned — not by Facebook, that is, the institution itself, nor by other users,” Professor Wolfgang Schweiger, who probably needs to go talk to Paul Horner, told the BBC.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Facebook educates on fake news in Kenya ahead of its general election. (Quartz)
  • The ongoing battle between science teachers and fake news. (NPR)
  • My colleague Christine Schmidt wrote about fake news games this week. (Nieman Lab)

This article first appeared on Nieman Lab and is republished with permission. 

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Momin Bannani

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