Social media giant Facebook has set up plans aimed at fighting “the spread of false news” in India, with its pilot program starting off in Karnataka. According to Indian Express, Facebook has about 201 million active Facebook users as of 2017. The company has admitted to the spread of false information and fake news during the US Presidential election in 2016. As India is gearing up for a general election next year, this initiative by Facebook is aimed at curbing misinformation from influencing political results.
Facebook is bringing in a third party for its fact-checking program in India. Reports mention that the company has partnered itself with an independent journalism initiative called BOOM. BOOM is certified by the International Fact-Checking Network.
Facebook already has fact-checking programs in place in the Philippines, France, Indonesia, and Italy. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who recently testified before the US Congress, had spoken about his concerns about how Facebook could affect democracy.
BOOM will be reviewing English stories that are flagged and also rate their accuracy. According to The Verge, there are six ratings available including “false,” “mixture,” “true,” and “not rated.” When a news story is flagged as false, Facebook will show it lower down in the news feed. They will also notify admins who share false stories on their pages. Pages continually sharing false information will have a lower reach and their ability to monetize and put up adverts will be restricted.
Though Facebook’s initiative to cut down on fake news circulation is commendable, it must be recalled that WhatsApp, a company owned by Facebook is also notorious for rampant misuse. Fake stories and misinformation are often shared across the platform used by 200 million users in India. The Verge reports that WhatsApp is testing alerts to prevent users from spamming.Meanwhile, Facebook faces a class action lawsuit over its use of face recognition technology, reports The BBC. The tech involves tag suggestions which identify a user’s friends in uploaded photos.