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View: ET GBS- Combating fake news high priority area for Facebook

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By: Campbell Brown
India’s coming general election is a high priority for Facebook. For well over a year now, we have been investing in the region, hoping to minimise the threat of fake news in the election and across Indian society.

We don’t want fake news on our platform. And we know you don’t either. That’s why one of the biggest priorities we have taken on over the last year has been to more deeply understand the amount of misinformation people see on Facebook and drive that number down.

In the two years since I joined Facebook to lead our global news efforts — through partnership and consultation with news organisations around the world — I’m encouraged by our progress. We are not the same company we were a year ago, or even six months ago. But there’s much more to do.

There’s no silver bullet with this issue. So, we’re taking a multi-pronged approach.

First, we built and continue to grow our third party fact-checking programme in India. We currently have eight partners across the country covering six languages – English, Hindi, Marathi, Malyalam, Telugu and Bengali. Their job is to review and rate the accuracy of stories. If a story is rated as false, we show it lower in News Feed so that fewer people see the post. This practice has enabled us to reduce views on stories rated false by an average of 80%. Our fact-checking programme in India now covers more languages than in any other country.

Beyond our fact-checking efforts, we work on education programmes throughout the country to help people understand how they can better spot false news and provide feedback on suspicious posts.

And finally, we are continuing to remove content that violates our Community Standards. We actively remove fake accounts and disrupt economic incentives, while our updated recidivism policy prevents duplicate Pages from continuing a previously removed activity.

It’s not just Facebook that’s taking this fight seriously. Last year, WhatsApp limited the number of times a person can forward a message at once, because we know that fake news travels much faster than quality information. This decision led to a 25% reduction in forwarded messages. WhatsApp is also running broad scale public education campaign on radio and TV encouraging people to share joy and not rumors.

It’s critical that we combat misinformation by supporting quality journalism. This is especially important to me as a former journalist. Through the Facebook Journalism Project, we collaborate with news organizations to help them develop products that improve their news gathering, storytelling and ways to grow their business. In the last year, we have also engaged with leading newsrooms and media universities like the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, to facilitate programs with organizations like First Draft ahead of the elections. The idea is to share best practices on how to verify true news stories and stop the spread of fake ones.

There isn’t one solution to misinformation. But through these steps, and in partnership with outside organisations and governments, we can reduce fake news, rumor and other activities meant to cause harm. As we head into India’s election this spring, there’s never been a more important time to get this right.

(
The author is Global Head of News Partnerships, Facebook. The Global Business Summit is presented by Yes Bank and The Economic Times and powered by Facebook.)

Source: Economic Times