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Facebook Updates Fact-Checking Ratings

Facebook has announced its latest updates regarding fact-checking in a statement released last week.

In the statement, the Facebook update outlined its approach to providing additional context for information that might not be outright false. The company released new ratings for its Third-Party Fact-Checking Program to help provide more clarity about misinformation flagged by its partners.

“We are announcing two new ratings to provide our fact-checking partners with more latitude to better reflect their research, and to help ensure that people who come across these posts have more precise information to judge what to read, trust, and share.

“The first rating, called “Altered,” is designed specifically for videos and images that have been manipulated in ways that could mislead people. For example, an edited video that shows someone shaking someone’s hand when they didn’t. Or an image where someone used Photoshop to depict a person at a location that they weren’t actually at.

“The second rating, called “Missing Context,” is designed for content that may mislead without additional context. Over the past few months, our fact-checking partners have increasingly flagged examples of this type of content to us, which wasn’t accurately represented by our existing ratings.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic and heading into the elections in the U.S. and around the world, we realize how important it is for people to understand what they’re seeing when they’re using our services and then judge its worth. We’ll begin to roll these new ratings out globally throughout the coming weeks.”

The new Facebook update also announced that opinion pieces, even ones that are framed as op-eds or editorials, are not exempt from being fact-checked. “Why? Because presenting something as opinion isn’t meant to give a free pass to content that spreads false information,” the statement read.

“This content is generally not eligible for fact-checking because we don’t want to interfere with individual expression. But there is an important exception. If content is presented as opinion but is based on underlying false information – even if it’s an op-ed or editorial – it’s still eligible to be fact-checked.”

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Facebook updates its algorithms to prioritize ‘original news’

Last week, as part of an attempt to reduce spam, click bait and specious articles, Facebook updated its algorithms, placing a heavy focus on original reporting and transparent authorship.

With half of the UK population now turning to social media for the latest news, Facebook seems to be the leading source. The update will prioritize original reporting of news stories, identifying and boosting outlets that publish the stories first.

Facebook explained how they intended to do this in a blog, written by Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships and Jon Levin, Product Manager:

“We will do this by looking at groups of articles on a particular story topic and identifying the ones most often cited as the original source. We’ll start by identifying original reporting in English language news and will do the same for news in other languages in the future.”

The idea behind this is to reward those who “take time and expertise” to produce original and important journalism.

The second element, transparent authorship, is pretty straight forward – if you’re publishing a news story, include a by-line.

“We will review news articles for by-lines or a staff page on the publisher’s website that lists the first and last names of reporters or other editorial staff. We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook.

But this is not the only updates the company is making, Facebook is also experimenting with a new feature where it will notify users when they are sharing a potentially out-of-date news article.

“Over the past several months, our internal research found that the timeliness of an article is an important piece of context that helps people decide what to read, trust and share,” Facebook Vice President of Feed and Stories John Hegeman wrote on the company’s blog.

Facebook hopes the updates will feed the appetite for more credible and informative news stories, resulting in news that feels authentic.