BBC Reports on Facebook as Arbiter of Policing ’Fake News’

Facebook has been embroiled in a scandal over the harvesting of user data by a British firm linked to US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign
© AFP Christophe SIMON

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is advancing the idea that Facebook is in the business of removing “fake news” from social media, including publicizing its new campaign “to help people spot fake news amid a growing advertising boycott putting pressure on the company to tackle misinformation and hate speech.”

Facebook’s Steve Hatch, the social media platform’s vice president for Northern Europe, said in the BBC report it is using FullFact, a UK-based “independent” fact checking organization that employs a former editorial director of Buzzfeed UK who now leads the fact-checking team.

It uses as a source Chole Colliver, who is in charge of digital research at the “anti-extremist think tank” Institute for Strategic Dialogue and said Facebook’s effort is “too little to late.” Colliver said:

We’ve seen Facebook try to take reactive and often quite small steps to stem the tide of disinformation on the platform. But they haven’t been able to proactively produce policies that help prevent users from seeing disinformation, false identities, false accounts, and false popularity on their platforms.

One of Colliver’s colleagues at ISD is Jim Hoagland, a Washington Post reporter who is on its board.

The BBC reported:

The [Facebook] campaign will direct people to the website StampOutFalseNews.com and ask users key questions about what they see online: “Where’s it from?” “What’s missing?” and “How did you feel?”

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Mr. Hatch says “financial considerations” are not behind the new ads.

In recent days, more than 150 companies – including Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever – have announced temporary halts to advertising buys on Facebook as a result of the #StopHateForProfit campaign.

The BBC reported Hatch said they are currently putting effort into combating “fake news” on the coronavirus.

“If people were sharing information that could cause real-world harm, we will take that down. We’ve done that in hundreds of thousands of cases,” Hatch said.

Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

BBC reported that it “found links between coronavirus misinformation and assaults, arsons and deaths, with potential – and potentially much greater – indirect harm caused by rumors, conspiracy theories and bad health advice,” which included the fake news about how President Donald Trump’s discussion about the drug Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus led to the death of an Arizona man who died after drinking a cleaning compound.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.