Rumors about the growth of misinformation are constant and everywhere. The main environment for spreading misinformation exists in social networks. And it is the large social networks that take obligatory measures to reduce misinformation. Facebook’s fact-checking program is one of those steps.
How does the program work?
Facebook cooperates with independent fact-checking organizations. In this case, the existence of The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) certificate is chosen as a criterion. There is no member organization from Armenia in this network yet. That is why the “Fact-Meter” of Georgian GRASS with such a certificate (FactCheck Georgia) was chosen to implement the program in Armenia.
In June-July 2021, during the early parliamentary elections in Armenia and the post-election period, our media.am website, which is part of the Media Initiatives Center, will cooperate with “Fact-Meter” on Facebook’s fact-checking program to check the content of materials spread in Armenian on Facebook and Instagram.
After finding material containing possible misinformation on Facebook, we rate the contentious material by the following decisions of Facebook:
- Partly False
- Missing Context
Based on the articles published, Facebook imposes certain restrictions on publishers (individual users, Facebook page) that distribute content rated by the first four verdicts (false, altered, partly false, missing context).
In other words, Facebook restricts the ability to share posts that have already been checked. In case a new violation is discovered by the same publishers, Facebook may take additional measures against them: reduction of distribution, restriction of advertising and monetization opportunities, etc.
We use the “Fact-Meter” methodology in our work. The basic principles are to help the reader to know the truth, to work transparently, to check the material several times if necessary to reduce the possibility of making a mistake.
Appeal of decisions
If the published material is listed on Facebook (in this case, the Facebook post is obscured, for example, with a misinformation tag) based on an article prepared by the fact-checking organization, it may be necessary to request a review of the decision on the published post. There are two ways: the publisher corrects the material and appeals the verdict.
It is important to remember that the disputed material should not be deleted, neither the publication on Facebook nor the information posted on the website. In case of cancellation, Facebook’s restrictions will remain in force, “Fact-Meter” and media.am will not be able to change or correct the decision already made based on the appeal request. It is necessary to read the guide carefully before submitting a request for a review of the decision.
Of course, Facebook’s fact-checking program does not completely solve the problem of misinformation on that largest social network.
Fact-checking journalists, for example, are not satisfied that Facebook does not allow for checking politicians’ speeches. They say on Facebook that if politicians are restricted, people will have less opportunity to hear what their elected officials have to say, and as a result, politicians will be less responsible for their words.
It was reported last week that Facebook plans to reconsider its principle and extend the impact of the fact-finding program to politicians as well.
This change will not happen so quickly as to affect the electoral and post-electoral processes in Armenia, but allowing for politicians’ Facebook posts to be checked in the future can really make them more responsible.
Our monitoring team works on a daily basis to find posts to be inspected. We also use Facebook monitoring tools. Readers can send verification materials to the Contact Us section of our site by writing “fact-checking” in the subject line of the email.
The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.