Facebook signs up Rappler, Vera Files for fact-checking program in PH

Beleaguered social media giant Facebook has tapped Rappler and Vera Files as local partners for its third-party fact-checking program in the Philippines.

In a statement, Facebook said Rappler and Vera Files have been certified through a non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network and will review news stories on Facebook, check their facts, and rate their accuracy.

The program is in line with a three-part framework to improve the quality and authenticity of stories in the News Feed, the according to the Internet firm.

Aside from its Community Standards which regulate content shared on the platform, Facebook said the program will also reduce the distribution of stories that undermine Facebook’s authenticity and will also provide people with more context on the stories they see.

“We are committed to fighting the spread of false news and misinformation on multiple fronts by employing a variety of tools and tactics. They include disrupting financial incentives, taking action against fake accounts, applying machine learning to help diminish spam, and reducing the posts people see that link to low-quality web pages by providing people with easier access to additional perspectives and information,” said Clair Deevy, Facebook’s director for community affairs for Asia Pacific

“Partnering with third-party fact-checking organizations is one of the ways we hope to better identify and reduce the reach of false news that people share on our platform,” Deevy added.

How fact-checking works

• Fact-checking stories. News stories flagged on Facebook will be reviewed by Rappler and Vera Files, who have both been certified through a non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network. These fact-checkers will review the story, check the facts, and rate the accuracy of the story.

• Placing false stories lower in News Feed. Stories that have been rated false by a fact-checker will be placed lower in your News Feed, significantly reducing the chances of you seeing it.

• Taking action against Pages and websites that repeatedly share false news. Pages that repeatedly share false news will see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.

Providing the community with more information and control

• Providing more context on false news stories. If third-party fact-checkers write articles providing more information on a news story, you will see these articles immediately below the original story in your News Feed, in Related Articles.

• Notifying people when they’ve shared false news. You’ll receive notifications if you try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false. Page Admins will also be notified if they share stories rated as false.

Maria A. Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler explained, “A shared version of reality is critical to any functioning democracy. Exposing lies and the networks which share them is a first step in strengthening civic engagement. It’s what journalists do, and we’re happy to work with Facebook to help create a safe and sane public space for critical thinking and debate.”

“It is important that decisions we make in our daily lives are based on correct information. Falsehoods cloud the mind and create confusion. Our aim with Vera Files’ fact-checking partnership with Facebook is to reduce falsehoods on social media and help create an informed citizenry — a vital component of democracy,” said Ellen Tordesillas, president of Vera Files.

Aside from being able to flag potential false news stories, people will also be informed if a story they shared on Facebook is rated as false. Also, Pages on Facebook that repeatedly share false news will be seen less across people’s News Feeds.

“We know more work needs to be done and we are committed to fighting false news on Facebook. There’s no silver bullet solution, which is why we’ve deployed a diverse and strategic plan. We will also continue to expand our local digital literacy programs in the Philippines to help give more Filipinos the skills they need to identify accurate news from false news, and to think critically about what they share online,” added Deevy.

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