Facebook announced today that it's launching a partnership with Agence France-Presse to fight fake news in Canada with a crack team of fact checkers, as part of Facebook's ongoing Elections Integrity Initiative launched in October 2017. The Paris-based Agence France-Presse is the third-largest news wire service in the world, behind Associated Press and Reuters, and it employs about 2,200 people around the globe.
Who will check the checkers?
It turns out that there's an organization that can certify the fact-checking of others. The Poynter Institute for Media Studies runs a non-profit journalism school in St. Petersburg, Florida, and it has a non-partisan unit called the International Fact-Checking Network, which employs a Code of Principles. This code includes a commitment to non-partisanship, transparency, and "open and honest corrections."
The network began an application and vetting process in January 2017, and Agence France-Presse became a verified signatory one year later.
Facebook characterizes its partnership with Agence France-Presse as one of a number of ways that the social network is attempting to fight fake news and generally low-quality interactions on its platform. It also cites the active removal of fake accounts (Facebook says it deleted a whopping 583 million such accounts just in the first quarter of 2018), using machine learning to filter spam, and making adjustments to your News Feed section to reduce the visibility of "low-quality web pages."
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Facebook does not publicize how many of its users are located in specific countries, so it's difficult to say how many of Canada's 36 million residents will benefit from this new initiative. But in March 2018, the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University estimated that 84% of the country used Facebook on a regular basis in 2017. Facebook itself estimated in April that over 600,000 of its Canadian users had been exposed to the Cambridge Analytica data leak.
The Agency France-Presse is one of five French news organizations that Facebook has aligned with on its fact-checking program, out of 25 organizations in total. You can find the full list here.
- While Canada's population is relatively small compared to its land mass, it had a gross domestic product of $1.8 trillion USD in 2018, putting it ahead of Russia and just behind Brazil. Granted, GDP isn't necessarily the best metric for a nation's economic might, but it's clear that Canada has a potent influence around the globe. So making sure that its residents have accurate news is important.
- While Facebook may be struggling with trust issues lately, it still recorded a 13% increase in monthly active users in Q1 2018 versus Q1 2017, to 2.2 billion.
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