Social networking giant Facebook has teamed up with news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), expanding third-party fact-checking programme in India, as it looks to combat the spread of “fake news” on its platform ahead of general elections in 2019. Facebook, which in April this year had partnered with BOOM, said the move will “bolster” its ongoing efforts to “clamp down on manipulated posts including photos and videos” on its platform.
Speaking to PTI, Facebook News Partnership Head (India) Manish Khanduri explained that AFP has been certified through the Poynter Institute’s non-partisan International Fact Checking Network. “One of our key objectives is to engage and combat misinformation and broadly that has been a part of our efforts for a while now… There are many things we do… (the aim is to) reduce, remove (fake news) and inform our audiences,” Khanduri said. He added that “AFP is becoming a part of third-party fact-checkers and will essentially bolster efforts to crackdown on misinformation” via text stories, photos and videos” on Facebook’s platform.
“We will continue to seek partners, we will continue to expand the programme,” he said adding that the company will also look at adding support for more Indian languages as well. At present, its partnership with BOOM covers content in English and Bengali. Facebook and WhatsApp, also owned by the social media giant, have been facing the menace of rumours and fake news floating on their platforms. Both organisations have taken a number of steps, including sensitisation programmes among users across the country.
More recently, WhatsApp – which drew flak from the government over circulation of certain fake and sinister messages that incited mob-fury in different parts of the country – has initiated measures to curb the circulation of misinformation on its platform. Detailing out the process, Khanduri said after a story is rated as false by the fact-checker, it will figure lower in News Feed, “significantly reducing its distribution”. He explained that this, in turn, stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it. Facebook has run similar initiatives in countries like France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and the US.