Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fact-checking service to work with Facebook

Product manager Antonia Woodford
Product manager Antonia Woodford

By Tim Smith

Northern Ireland's only dedicated fact-checking service is to assist Facebook's efforts to minimise the spread of misinformation on its platform.

FactCheckNI is one of five groups that are to rate and review the accuracy of stories posted on the social networking site.

Facebook has expanded its use of independent fact-checking groups in Europe, as it looks to cut down on misinformation ahead of the European Parliament elections.

The company has admitted greater regulation is needed for the tech industry and has said it will work with governments to introduce it.

The updated fact-checking programme will see the five new partners join a larger group of checkers focused on the upcoming European Parliament elections called FactCheckEU.

The other new groups are Ellinika Hoaxes in Greece, Faktograf in Croatia, Observador in Portugal and Patikrinta 15min in Lithuania.

The scheme now includes 21 groups, fact-checking content in 14 European languages, Facebook said.

Any content that is flagged as false will be shown lower in the Facebook News Feed, which the firm claims reduces its distribution and the number of people who see it.

Facebook product manager Antonia Woodford said: "In our experience, once a story is rated as false, we've been able to reduce its distribution by 80%. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise removed.

"This helps curb the spread of financially motivated false news."

Ms Woodford said the fact-checking programme was part of wider Facebook efforts to improve the "quality and authenticity" of stories that appear in the site's News Feed.

"We remove accounts and content that violate our Community Standards or ad policies, reduce the distribution of false news and inauthentic content like clickbait, and inform people by giving them more context on the posts they see," she said.

"Misinformation is a complex and evolving problem, and we have more work to do."

FactCheckNI said: "Working with Facebook provides the opportunity to directly inject our fact-checking remedy into this social network.

"Our aim is to improve the quality of information being read on Facebook and to increase the impact of our work."

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