Facebook to expand fact-checking partners to Pacific

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - Facebook, the largest social media network in the world, is extending its list partners to cover the Pacific region in its fact-checking programme, to reduce misinformation and fake news. 

Facebook had recently implemented its fact-checking programme in Asia-Pacific region but dominantly in the Asian countries.

But Product Manager for Facebook, Antonina Woodford, told the Samoa Observer they are looking more and more towards the Pacific region. Part of the work includes introducing fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of content. This covers photos and videos.

In acknowledging language barriers as being a limitation to the programme, Ms. Woodford said fact-checkers do not cover all countries. 

“We are continuing to expand our fact-checking work to add new partners in the market and finally the more we do - the more impact,” she said in response to queries on fact-checking for the Pacific. 

Facebook Communication and Misinformation representative, Andrea Vallone, said fact-checkers partnering with the company need to be certified with the Fact Checking Organisation to maintain its standards. 

She explained they are looking into fact-checkers “that have signatories in the Pacific region in order to globalise the programme.”

“There is only so much we can do,” said added. 

“We don’t want to get in a situation where we are working in a non-ethical and transparently routine process. 

“Again the idea here is to empower users to make their own decisions with the content and information they come across online. We are also telling users to stay in good standards and create good quality content, to show publishers and group admins to remain in good standard.”

Twelve journalists visited Facebook Headquarter in Menlo Park, San Francisco, U.S.A. this week as part of the Pacific Journalism Reporting Tour hosted by East-West Center. 

Journalists from the Pacific raised concerns over vulnerability of the communities from misinformation thriving and lack of checks from the more multi-billion users social media. 

Facebook told the journalists that it wants to reduce the spread of fake news and misinformation but also encourages healthy debate on the platform. 


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 The Product Manager said the idea is to allow people to generally express themselves on Facebook. 

However, it is also the company’s responsibility to “take down a lot of content that promotes hate and terrorist content, bullying and fake accounts”. 

She said research has shown that the number of fake news has dropped since 2016 and the social media company will create more ways to reduce it. 

“We know that fighting false news is a long-term commitment as the tactics used by bad actors are always changing,” said Ms. Woodford. 

“As we take action in the short-term, we’re also continuing to invest in more technology and partnerships so that we can stay ahead of new types of misinformation in the future.”

In terms of anonymous users described as “bad actors” that circulate false news and promote hate speech, Facebook conducts investigation into admins and review the pages. You can also report those believed to be using fake pages on https://www.facebook.com/help/174210519303259

Ms. Vallone who deals with misinformation said although fake accounts created to spread false news are banned “it does not solve the whole problem”. 

She said the company will continue to take action to reduce such content and reduce distribution for bad actors so they do not continue to create an audience for false news. 

In addition she stated in any investigation Facebook does work with those that report fake accounts and governments if they report it. 

But information into such investigation cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality, she said. 

It could not be confirmed at press time if Facebook had look into allegations of an investigation into the anonymous O Le Palemia page in partnership with the government and the Attorney General's Office. 

Earlier this year, Minister of Communications, Information and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai revealed that the government is aware of individuals behind O Le Palemia facebook page. 

Afamasaga cited the page has caused a lot of unrest and caused violence within Samoa’s small community and was reluctant to disclose those involved. 

O.L.P. is a social media page that published multiple allegations of corruption against a number of government officials including the Prime Minister and also individuals in Samoa. 

“The Government is aware of them (behind O.L.P.) and we are in touch with Facebook who are helping Police and Attorney General with their investigation” said the Minister in April.

“I can say that a lot of bloggers have been identified but what can we do. We do not want anything to happen in this country like what has happened in New Zealand.” 

The Minister reminded that the Government has better things to worry about than wasting time on O.L.P. 

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