FB open to more fact checkers

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - JANVIC MA­TEO

Amid crit­i­cisms from the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment over its choice of third-party fact checkers in the coun­try, so­cial me­dia giant Face­book said it is will­ing to tap other or­ga­ni­za­tions for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its ini­tia­tive against fake news.

Face­book yes­ter­day said it chose Rappler and Vera Files as its third-party fact checkers in the Philip­pines as they are the only or­ga­ni­za­tions that are sig­na­tory to Poyn­ter’s In­ter­na­tional Fact Check­ing Net­work (ICFN) Code of Prin­ci­ples.

“At Face­book, we want to work with as many or­ga­ni­za­tions as pos­si­ble and we wel­come other part­ners in the Philip­pines to be­come cer­ti­fied and to join the fact-check­ing pro­gram,” the com­pany said in a state­ment sent to The STAR.

“Poyn­ter is in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized as the lead­ing con­vener, teacher and com­mu­nity-builder for fact checkers around the world. In the Philip­pines, Rappler and Vera Files are the only two who are Poyn­ter cer­ti­fied at this point,” it added.

Launched in 2016, the ICFN Code of Prin­ci­ples seeks to pro­mote ex­cel­lence in fact check­ing as an in­stru­ment of ac­count­abil­ity jour­nal­ism.

Sig­na­to­ries of the code com­mit to non-par­ti­san­ship and fair­ness; trans­parency of sources, fund­ing and method­ol­ogy; and open­ness to hon­est cor­rec­tions.

The net­work has a three­step vet­ting process in or­der for an or­ga­ni­za­tion to be a sig­na­tory.

On Mon­day, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque slammed the choice of Rappler and Vera Files as Face­book’s fact checkers in the Philip­pines.

He said the two or­ga­ni­za­tions are en­gaged in par­ti­san­ship, not­ing their re­ports crit­i­cal of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But ac­cord­ing to Vera Files pres­i­dent Ellen Torde­sil­las, their or­ga­ni­za­tion has been vet­ted by the IFCN as non­par­ti­san and fair in con­duct­ing its fact checks.

Mean­while, Rappler urged its read­ers to take part in the ini­tia­tive to weed out lies on the so­cial me­dia plat­form.

“This is not just about news groups. This is about mak­ing the first needed step in a prob­lem­atic on­line en­vi­ron­ment that we are all try­ing to nav­i­gate and make bet­ter,” it said in an open let­ter.

“It’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity, not a priv­i­lege. We ac­cepted it be­cause, along with you, we’ve seen how lies have ripped us apart as a so­ci­ety, fo­ment­ing hate and anger,” it added.

Con­trary to con­cerns raised by some per­son­al­i­ties, Rappler said the ini­tia­tive will en­cour­age and not sti­fle free speech.

“Be­cause the re­al­ity is, power groups are us­ing free speech on Face­book to sti­fle free speech, as shown in var­i­ous cases here and in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries,” it said.

“This is not about Rappler. This is about an ac­tion a long time com­ing – for the tech giant to put in place mech­a­nisms that would help weed out the un­fil­tered lies that we’ve been get­ting on our so­cial feeds for some­time now,” it added.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive, fact checkers will be tasked to re­view news sto­ries flagged by users as pos­si­bly con­tain­ing false in­for­ma­tion.

Sto­ries that have been rated false by a fact checker will be placed lower in the news feed, sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing the chances of a user see­ing it.

Face­book said pages that re­peat­edly share false news will see their dis­tri­bu­tion re­duced and their abil­ity to mon­e­tize and ad­ver­tise re­moved.

Users and page ad­min­is­tra­tors will also be in­formed if they shared sto­ries that are rated as false.

The so­cial me­dia com­pany has also started block­ing some Philip­pine fake news web­sites from be­ing shared in the on­line plat­form.

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