Facebook Fact-Checking Comes To The UK

By Holly Brockwell on at

Facebook has brought its fact-checking service over to these shores to try to stem the tide of complete bollocks flooding the social network.

While it seems a bit like closing the stable door after the horse voted to leave the EU, Zuckerberg is nonetheless keen to keep doing things that'll get his beleaguered social network some positive headlines among all the negative press.

Facebook is working with the independent UK fact-checking organisation Full Fact, whose website is kind of like a UK-specific Snopes and well worth a read. Full Fact will look at public images, articles and videos flagged by users and assess whether they're bobbins or not.

Here's the rating scale:

  • False: The primary claim(s) of the content are factually inaccurate. This generally corresponds to “false” or “mostly false” ratings on fact-checkers' sites.
  • Mixture: The claim(s) of the content are a mix of accurate and inaccurate, or the primary claim is misleading or incomplete.
  • False Headline: The primary claim(s) of the article body content are true, but the primary claim within the headline is factually inaccurate.
  • True: The primary claim(s) of the content are factually accurate. This generally corresponds to “true” or “mostly true” ratings on fact-checkers' sites.
  • Not eligible: The content contains a claim that is not verifiable, was true at the time of writing, comes from another social platform, or from a website or Page with the primary purpose of expressing the opinion or agenda of a political figure.
  • Satire: The content is posted by a Page or domain that is a known satire publication, or a reasonable person would understand the content to be irony or humor with a social message. It still may benefit from additional context.
  • Opinion: The content expresses a personal opinion, advocates a point of view (e.g., on a social or political issue), or is self-promotional. This includes, but is not limited to, content shared from a website or Page with the main purpose of expressing the opinions or agendas of public figures, think tanks, NGOs, and businesses.
  • Prank generator: Websites that allow users to create their own “prank” news stories to share on social media sites.
  • Not rated: This is the default state before fact-checkers have fact-checked content or if the URL is broken. Leaving it in this state (or returning to this rating from another rating) means that we should take no action based on your rating.

The fact that 'satire' is on there makes us despair somewhat, but that's the world we live in. "CAN YOU BELIEVE THERESA MAY IS DOING STRICTLY COME DANCING 2019, SHE'S MEANT TO BE RUNNING THE COUNTRY" is something we actually heard from a red-faced, spittle-spewing family friend over the festive period.

Content marked as false or a mixture will see its distribution reduced in the news feed, and it'll be accompanied by verified articles on similar topics. Anyone who tries to share the content will be warned that it's inaccurate, and if they've shared content in the past that's now been marked inaccurate, they'll be told about that as well.

Pages and sites that are repeatedly flagged as talking crap will be demoted in the news feed, and eventually have their ability to monetise and advertise taken away. News pages will also be stripped of that rank if they keep sharing nonsense.

Says Full Fact in a blog post:

"We’re going to focus on misinformation that could damage people’s health or safety, or undermine democratic processes — everything from dangerous cancer ‘cures’ to false stories spreading after terrorist attacks or fake content about voting processes ahead of elections.

This isn’t a magic pill. Factchecking is slow, careful, pretty unglamorous work — and realistically we know we can’t possibly review all the potentially false claims that appear on Facebook every day.

But it is a step in the right direction, and a chance to tackle misinformation that makes a real difference to people’s lives."

The organisation already has a lot on its hands "checking politicians, public figures and the media, pushing for corrections and withdrawals and working to stop inaccurate claims being made in the first place." You can donate to help their work here, and presumably Facebook is bunging them some major cash to help make its site less of a cesspit.

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