Facebook Stumbles With Early Effort To Stamp Out Fake News

By Sarah Frier
Bloomberg News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A fundamental question that will be asked this week when internet companies testify in front of congressional committees: How responsible should Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. be for information others distribute through their systems?

SAN FRANCISCO

Facebook Inc.’s strategy to stamp out fake news is struggling.

The company outsources the process to third-party fact checkers who can only tackle a small fraction of the bogus news that floods the social network, according to interviews with people involved in the process. And screenshots obtained by Bloomberg reveal a process that some partners say is too cumbersome and inefficient to stop misinformation duplicating and spreading.

“There is no silver bullet,” Facebook said in a statement. “This is part of a multi-pronged approach to combating false news. We have seen real progress in our efforts so far, but are not nearly done yet.”

The flaws highlight a fundamental question that will be asked this week when internet companies testify in front of congressional committees: How responsible should Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. be for information others distribute through their systems?

Facebook started noticing fake stories trending on its network as early as the summer of 2016, and it took a long time for the company to take any responsibility.

A few days after President Donald Trump’s November election win, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said it was “crazy” to think fake news had swayed voters. But as it became clear that some fake political stories garnered more traffic on Facebook than work from traditional outlets, criticism of Zuckerberg’s stance mounted.

After reflecting on the problem he said he would prioritize fixing it. His main solution has been the fact-checking effort.

In early 2017, Facebook contracted for one year with PolitiFact, Snopes, ABC News, factcheck.org and the Associated Press to sniff out fake news on its social network.

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