Facebook, which has also been facing flak over allegations of political bias, works with independent third-party fact-checkers certified through a non-partisan international fact-checking network. In India, the social media company works with eight partners including India Today Group, Vishvas News (Jagran), FACTLY, NewsMobile, FactCrescendo, BOOM Live, AFP, and the Quint, which fact-check in 11 Indian languages and English.
Also read: Parliament panel grills Facebook officials
HT reached out to FactCrescendo for comments but did not get a response, while BOOM Live and India Today Group declined to remark. Facebook also did not immediately respond to HT’s request for comments.
FACTLY founder Rakesh Dubbudu said the role of a fact-checker is limited to assessing misinformation and Facebook has to take further action. “Our process is simple. We make sure that when we do a fact-check, everything is totally translucent and the public can repeat the same actions to confirm the information.” He said they focus on virality and potential for real-world harm in terms of flagging the posts.
According to a fact-checker, who did not want to be named, whether the right-wing ecosystem is throwing up more misinformation, then how is their fault. “Ahead of the Karnataka elections in 2018, we had also pointed to quite a lot of pages that were spreading Congress propaganda.”
People familiar with the matter said the fact-checking system is a hybrid between people and technology. They added Facebook’s machine learning models identify posts that can be false by the usage of signals like how something is also going viral, user reports, and comments expressing disbelief. Facebook also allows several rating options that third-party fact-checkers can apply to satisfied.
Satisfied that has no basis is marked as false. Image, audio, or video satisfied edited or synthesised beyond adjustments for clarity or quality in ways that could mislead people is marked as altered. Satisfied that has some factual inaccuracies falls under the partly false category, etc.
When fact-checkers rate narrative as false or altered, Facebook significantly reduces its distribution. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news also have their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and put it up for sale removed. Facebook users are also allowed to mark satisfied as false or deceptive.
Facebook’s strategy to tackle misinformation is three-fold, the people said. It also involves the removal of accounts and satisfied that violate community standards.
The Parliamentary standing committee on information and technology on Wednesday summoned Facebook officials following media reports that an executive from the company’s India operations team intervened to give protection to a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party politician from action over hate speech.
The Congress has sought a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the allegations against Facebook, a crook inquiry into the company’s conduct, and termination of its contracts with the government.