What is Facebook’s Third-Party Fact Checking Programme?

Facebook’s Third-Party Fact Checking Programme is part of the social media company’s efforts to minimise the spread of misinformation on its platform.

The programme has been running since December 2016. FactCheckNI has been participating since April 2019.

To be a participant, the fact checking organisation must be a verified signatory of the Code of Principles of the International Fact-Checking Network and choose to opt in to the programme. FactCheckNI as been a verified signatory since 2016.

How does the process work?

As Facebook explains, any of the social media platform’s users can provide feedback on any story item in their News Feed (“False News”) or on Instagram (“False Information”). FactCheckNI fact checkers can review these suggestions and may make a determination whether the stories, images, or videos are true, false, or a mixture of accuracy. A false rating will reduce the occurrence of the misinformation appearing in other Facebook users’ news feeds. Facebook has no input into this fact checking process. People and pages that have shared content that is marked as false are notified.

When such content does appear, or flagged content is shared, a visual treatment is applied to flag up the fact checker analysis, and users will be given the option to read more about research on it; a user can still proceed to share the item regardless.

Does this get content removed from Facebook?

According to Facebook, “generally, no”. Facebook removes content that violates its Community Standards policy, regardless of whether it’s been fact checked or not. Neither FactCheckNI, nor any other participating fact checking organisation, has a say in anything that Facebook decides to remove.

What happens if I publish rated content?

According to Facebook: “If you are a person using a profile, these enforcements only apply to the individual pieces of content, and do not have an impact on your account. Pages and websites that repeatedly share content rated false by fact-checkers will have some restrictions, including having their distribution reduced.”

How do I get these flags removed?

Facebook describes how a publisher can respond to a fact checking organisation, to query a verdict or otherwise: “Any publisher can appeal a rating by contacting a fact-checking partner directly. Publishers can either dispute a rating, or make a correction. Fact-checking partners are ultimately responsible for deciding whether to update a rating, which will lift enforcement on the content, Page or domain.” Facebook provides further details for Publishers.

Does Facebook tell you what to fact check?

No. FactCheckNI retains full editorial control over what it fact checks and what it concludes. Our website invites the public to submit claims for consideration to check.

FactCheckNI publishes the results of every claim that we fact check, whether it is in regards to the Facebook programme or not. FactCheckNI regularly checks and publishes claims made by political figures, while Facebook’s current policy is not to flag up posts and ads by politicians on its platforms.

Is Facebook paying FactCheckNI for this work?

Yes. Facebook pays FactCheckNI for this aspect of our work. We regularly review our operations to ensure that this activity does not compromise our work.

As always, you can inspect our funding details.

Why is FactCheckNI participating in this programme?

Working with Facebook provides an opportunity to improve the quality of information being read on Facebook and to increase the impact of our work. And Facebook’s process of notifying people and pages that have shared false content aligns with FactCheckNI’s mission to help develop critical thinking skills in the community.

FactCheckNI is a non profit Community Interest Company, where our activities are to provide benefit to those who wish to improve their fact checking and critical thinking skills. We will participate in the Facebook Third-Party Fact Checking Programme so long as we believe doing so will contribute to achieving these goals.
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