Report: Facebook Changing Fact-Check Rules, Exempts Opinion and Humor

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is making major changes to its embattled fact-checking program by exempting opinion and satirical content, as well as allowing content creators to appeal rulings directly to the company, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Facebook fact checkers won’t label opinion or satirical posts as “false” even if they actually contain information the fact checkers deem to be inaccurate. The newspaper cited anonymous people who were familiar with the changes.

In the past, users wanting to appeal a fact check had to contact the outside fact-check group that made the ruling. Now it appears that Facebook will step in to handle appeals.

Facebook hasn’t officially announced the changes. But The Journal said the shift follows Facebook’s decision last week to overrule a “false” label on a Washington Examiner opinion article from one of its fact-check partners. The op-ed piece said that global-warming climate models have been inaccurate and that the risks of climate change are overstated.

“I know Facebook doesn’t want to be in the middle of this, but here they are,” Angie Drobnic Holan, the editor of PolitiFact, one of Facebook’s accredited fact checkers, told The Journal.

Facebook launched its fact-checking program in 2016, enlisting a network of outside fact-check organizations to adjudicate content. But the program has come under fire, with conservative groups saying they are being unfairly targeted by fact checkers who have a liberal agenda.

Pro-life group Live Action has contested a “false” label on a video it posted when it was revealed that the fact checkers at Science Feedback who made the ruling have ties to abortion advocacy groups. Facebook has removed the “false” designation, according to The Journal.

A “false” rating can reduce a content creator’s exposure on Facebook, negatively impacting traffic and revenue.

Facebook is planning to expand its fact-checking program to Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app that the social media giant owns.

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