San Francisco: Facebook has dismissed a media report that claimed journalists working as fact-checkers for the social media giant are frustrated and are ending partnerships as the company failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.
A report in The Guardian on Thursday said outside reporters have lost trust in Facebook, “which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work”.
Reacting to the report, Meredith Carden, Head of News Integrity Partnerships at Facebook, said the Guardian story presents several inaccuracies.
“Contrary to a claim in the story, we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritise debunking content about our advertisers,” Carden said in a statement.
The report, she added, is based primarily on the account of a single fact-checker who has not been involved with the Facebook fact-checking program for six months.
“We have been committed to fighting misinformation for years now and have strong relationships with our third-party fact-checking partners — we now have 35 partners in 24 countries around the world,” said Facebook.
The report quoted Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a fact-checking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years, as saying that the social network is using journalists for handling crisis PR.
“They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care,” said Binkowski, who now runs her own fact-checking site which does not partner with Facebook.
According to Facebook, it values the ongoing partnerships and the work that these journalists do.
The third-party fact-checking programme was launched in 2016 after the US Presidential election.
“We’re planning to expand the programme to even more countries in 2019,” said Carden.
According to Facebook, three separate kinds of research have found that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing since it put up a third-party fact-checking programme and other anti-misinformation measures in place.
However, The Guardian report said the company has ignored journalists’ concerns.
Some newsroom leaders said, “they had grown increasingly resentful of Facebook, especially following revelations that the company had paid a consulting firm to go after opponents by publicising their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros”.
A New York Times investigation in November suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors” including Soros.
Reacting to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg denied they had any prior knowledge about this firm.
“It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg had directed her staff to research Soros’s financial interests after he publicly criticised the company,” the Guardian report said.
The report quoted another fact-checker as saying that he was demoralised.
“They are a terrible company and, on a personal level, I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” said the anonymous fact-checker.