International Asia Facebook content in Singapore to be fact-checked by AFP

Facebook content in Singapore to be fact-checked by AFP

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AFP’s task will be to review and rate how accurate the stories, photos, and videos are on Facebook, as seen by Facebook users in Singapore

Singapore—Over two years after its launch in the United States and the United Kingdom, Facebook is implementing its fact-checking programme in countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Australia.

The social media network will work with international news organisation Agence France-Presse (AFP) for the purpose of reducing “the spread of misinformation and improving the quality of the news people find online.”

AFP’s task will be to review and rate how accurate the stories, photos, and videos are on Facebook, as seen by Facebook users in Singapore. Content in English, Mandarin, and Malay will be monitored by AFP.

There will be one dedicated fact-checking reporter at AFP’s Singapore bureau, as well as a regional editorial fact-checking team in Hong Kong, TODAYonline reports Catherine Barton, AFP’s Asia fact-check editor, as saying.

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AFP’s global fact-checking network will also provide further support to its operations here.

According to Ms Barton, “We select content to investigate based on criteria including editorial interest, how widely something has been shared and whether it has entered public debate. We employ both digital verification techniques and traditional reporting methods in our evaluation and publish our findings on content we deem to be deliberately misleading”.

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While the Government is finding ways to address the problem of online falsehoods, such as the proposed anti-fake news bill, POFMA, which is expected to be passed in Parliament this month, tech companies are also stepping up to solve the problem.

TODAYonline reports that Facebook employs nine choices in rating content up for evaluation. These include “false” (when the primary claims made are factually inaccurate), “mixture” (when the primary claim is incomplete or misleading), “false headline”,  “opinion”, “true” and “not eligible” (in cases wherein a claim is not verifiable, or a website or page that is primarily expressing an opinion or the agenda of a political figure).

Here are the steps for the Facebook/AFP fact-checking process:

  1. Facebook identifies possible fake news based on feedback from users as well as its own algorithm and passes this on to AFP, whose fact-checker will proactively identify fake news material.
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2. AFP then puts a rating on the article’s accuracy.

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3. Stories that have been given a “false”, “mixture” or “false headline” rating will have reduced distribution, showing up in the lower portions of users’ news feeds and posted alongside related articles provided by fact-checkers.

Anjali Kapoor, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific director of news partnerships, said at a media conference on May 2, Thursday, that the social media site does not take down all false content since “we are not the arbiters of truth and our community does not want us to be”.

In the past, Facebook has said that it will take false content down only if it causes voter suppression, or poses a threat of immediate violence.

Ms Kapoor said that individuals who attempt to share content that has already been rated as “false”, “mixture” or “false headline” will be notified of the additional reporting by fact-checkers. These people will also be told if posts or articles they’ve shared previously has since been given a rating by a fact-checker.

“We know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook … We believe that with this fact-checking programme, we can help build a more informed community in Singapore and look forward to exploring more opportunities to expand this programme locally,”

Yahoo Singapore reports her as saying.

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Fact-checked content will also be labeled accordingly.

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Ms Kapoor added that the social media site will take action against pages which repeatedly post content that is false—by being disallowed to monetize their content or having the content distribution reduced, for instance.

She said that in countries where the company had carried out its fact-checking programme, the distribution of posts that were fact-checked and found to contain falsehoods decreased  80 percent.

No Facebook employees in Singapore will be involved in the fact-checking, Ms Kapoor said.

While the social media giant’s third-party fact-checking partners have quadrupled in number to 52 in 33 countries, there are certain media outfits that have purportedly cut ties with Facebook, citing doubts about its efficacy and impact. /TISG

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