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Flagged as fake? Facebook brings fact-checking to SA

Facebook this week announced the launch of Third-Party Fact-Checking to help assess the accuracy of news in South Africa, and reduce the spread of misinformation, whilst improving the quality of news people find on its platform.

Working with two partners, Africa Check; Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation and AFP, a well-respected news organisation, both are part of a global network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.

Facebook’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

However, this means Facebook will not remove such content from its platform.

“We’re committed to South Africa, and take our responsibility seriously in tackling the spread of false news, and helping to improve the quality of information people find on our platform,” said Emilar Gandhi, Facebook Public Policy Manager, SADC. “Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we’re able to reduce its future views by an average of 80%, helping to curb economic incentives and reduce its spread.”

When third-party fact-checkers write articles about a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

The partnership with Africa Check and AFP joins a recently launched Kenya programme, with both aimed at fighting the spread of misinformation via news articles, photos and videos.

Anim van Wyk, Chief Editor of Africa Check, said: “Until now, Africa Check has had to play catch-up with misinformation that harms that is shared on social media. Partnering with Facebook enables us to limit its spread very early on a key platform. It’s a huge and exciting step forward for us”.


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