A leading fact-checking agency, Snopes, announced last week that it’s terminating its partnership with Facebook and will no longer aid in reducing the spread of misinformation and fake news on the platform. “We are evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff”, reads the statement by David Mikkelson, CEO, Snopes, and Vinny Green, VP operations, Snopes.
Facebook had decided to partner up with 3rd party fact checking firms at the end of 2016, to get help in combating false news on its platform following the 2016 US elections. One such firm to partner up with Facebook was Snopes, who contributed to Facebook for two years. Snopes team mentions that when they contributed to Facebook’s initial fact-checking effort in December 2016, there were no financial benefits (payment offer) involved. However, Facebook did offer a lump $100,000 payment for their work in 2017.
Other than that, Green told Poynter that part of the reason why Snopes withdrew its partnership with Facebook is that third-party fact-checking for Facebook didn’t seem practical to the publishers within Snopes. He mentions that fact checkers had to manually enter false news post on Facebook that they flag into the dashboard, which in turn, requires a lot of time and is not possible for a team that has only 16 people. “It doesn’t seem like we’re striving to make third-party fact-checking more practical for publishers — it seems like we’re striving to make it easier for Facebook. The work that fact-checkers are doing doesn’t need to be just for Facebook — we can build things for fact-checkers that benefit the whole web, and that can also help Facebook”, Green told Poynter.
Offering Fact-checking services for Facebook has been under a lot of controversy within Snopes, as Guardian recently quoted Brooke Binkowski, Snopes’ former managing editor, and Kim LaCapria, a former fact-checker in a report published in December last year. As per the reports, the former Snopes employees mentioned that Facebook ‘didn’t care’ about the fact-checking firms. “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR. They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care,” said Binkowski. Regarding the current news, a Facebook spokesperson told Poynter that, despite Snopes’ pulling out of the partnership, Facebook will continue to improve its platform and work with fact-checkers around the world.
Another agency, named, Associated Press (AP) is also currently making negotiations over its role as a fact-checking agency on Facebook. AP spokesperson told TechCrunch it’s not doing any fact-checking work for Facebook currently and is in an ongoing discussion with Facebook about opportunities related to doing more important fact-checking work on Facebook. AP doesn’t plan on leaving Facebook but is in talks with the company and hopes to start the fact-checking work soon, as reported by TechCrunch.
Snopes team also mentioned that they’ve not entirely ruled out working with Facebook and are willing to have an open dialogue and discussion with Facebook over its approaches to fighting misinformation.
“We will continue to be pioneers in a challenging digital media landscape, forever looking for opportunities to cultivate our publication and increase our impact. Our extremely talented and dedicated staff stands ready for the challenges ahead”, states the Snopes team.
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