The fact-checkers enlisted by Facebook to help clear the site of “fake news” say the social media giant’s refusal to share information is hurting their efforts, Politico reports.
In December, Facebook promised to address the spread of misinformation on its platform, in part by working with outside fact-checking groups. But because the company has declined to share any internal data from the project, the fact-checkers say they have no way of determining whether the tags they’re affixing to “fake news” articles slow, or perhaps even accelerate, the stories’ spread.
According to Politico, the fact-checkers also say they’re lacking information that would allow them to prioritize the most important stories out of the hundreds possible to fact-check at any given moment. Some fact-checkers are growing frustrated, saying the lack of information is undermining Facebook’s efforts to combat false news reports.
“I would say that the general lack of information, not only data, given by Facebook is a concern for a majority of publishers,” Adrien Sénécat, a journalist at Le Monde, one of the news organizations that has partnered with Facebook to fact-check stories, said in an emailed response to Politco.
Representatives from Facebook say that privacy concerns prevent them from sharing raw data with outsiders. In the wake of November’s election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg downplayed the amount of fake news on his platform and called it “a pretty crazy idea” that it could have influenced the election.
But a month later, under pressure, the company announced a slew of efforts designed to combat the problem, including the arrangement with fact-checkers. “We’re committed to doing our part. We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully.” Facebook’s vice-president for Newsfeed, Adam Mosseri, wrote.
Sara Su, a product manager on Facebook’s newsfeed team, told Politico that she believes the fact-check program is working: “We have seen data that, when a story is flagged by a third party fact-checker, it reduces the likelihood that somebody will share that story.” she said.
In the United States, Facebook signed up Politifact, FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the AP and ABC News to patrol news on the platform, and since March, users have been able to report stories that seem untrue and send them to a queue for the checkers. Facebook’s algorithms also search for stories that seem bogus, adding them to the queue. If two of the fact-checking groups label a story false, then Facebook slaps a “disputed” tag on it.