Face­book ties up with BOOM to start pilot against fake news


So­cial net­work­ing giant Face­book is in­tro­duc­ing a third­party fact-check­ing pro­gramme in In­dia to com­bat the spread of “false news” on its plat­form, start­ing with a pilot in Kar­nataka, which goes to polls next month.

Face­book said it had part­nered with BOOM, an in­de­pen­dent dig­i­tal jour­nal­ism ini­tia­tive cer­ti­fied through the In­ter­na­tional Fact- Check­ing Net­work, for a pilot in Kar­nataka, where assem­bly elec­tions will be held on May 12.

In a blog­post on Mon­day, the US so­cial net­work­ing giant said the pro­gramme in In­dia aims “to fight the spread of false news on our plat­form”. BOOM will re­view English lan­guage news sto­ries flagged on Face­book, check facts, and rate their ac­cu­racy, it said.

Face­book is run­ning sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives in France, Italy, the Nether­lands, Ger­many, Mex­ico, In­done­sia, the Philip­pines and the US. Over the last few weeks, Face­book has drawn in­tense crit­i­cism from users and gov­ern­ments glob­ally over a num­ber of is­sues, rang­ing from false news on the plat­form to in­for­ma­tion of over 80 mil­lion users be­ing mined by data an­a­lyt­ics and po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing firm, Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica.

The In­dian gov­ern­ment had also ques­tioned both the com­pa­nies on the im­pact of the data breach. Face­book had ad­mit­ted that nearly 562,000 peo­ple in In­dia were “po­ten­tially af­fected” by the in­ci­dent.

Tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore the US Congress, Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg had said his or­gan­i­sa­tion was com­mit­ted to en­sure in­tegrity of elec­tions across the world, in­clud­ing In­dia. In its blog­post, the com­pany said it be­lieves that “once a story is rated as false, we have been able to re­duce its dis­tri­bu­tion by 80 per cent, and thereby, im­prove ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion on Face­book and re­duce mis­in­for­ma­tion”.

Face­book has al­ready stated that it will use re­ports from com­mu­nity along with other sig­nals to send sto­ries to factcheck­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. “We are be­gin­ning small and know it is im­por­tant to learn from this test and lis­ten to our com­mu­nity as we con­tinue to up­date ways for peo­ple to un­der­stand what might be false news in their News Feed,” it said.

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