Facebook Has Finally Started Fact-Checking Fake News In Its Largest Market

Facebook is finally going to start fact-checking news on its platform in India, its largest market external the United States with more than 240 million users.

On Tuesday, the social network announced a partnership with BOOM, an independent, Mumbai-based fact-checking organization that’s certified by the International Fact-Checking network, to rush a fact-checking pilot for the Indian state of Karnataka, which goes to polls on May 12. A Facebook blog post said that BOOM will review English language news stories shared on the platform that are flagged by users, check facts, and rate their accuracy.

“We are beginning small and know it is distinguished to memorize from this test and listen to our community as we continue to update ways for people to understand what might be counterfeit news in their News Feed,” said the post.

Facebook has similar partnerships with fact-checkers in the United States, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but launching one in India is a meaningful step: experts contain accused Facebook and other internet-based companies of not doing enough to ensure that their platforms aren’t used to spread misinformation and propaganda ahead of a major national election in India in 2019, and several key state elections throughout this year like the one in Karnataka.

Govindraj Ethiraj, the founder of BOOM, told BuzzFeed News that the company expects to fact-check two to three additional pieces of content every day as a result of the partnership with Facebook. “From our point of view, we are continuing to conclude what we already conclude,” said Ethiraj, but added that BOOM would hire two additional people to fact-check stories related to Karnataka. “There is a small amount of money [from Facebook] involved,” he said, “but not enough to build fact-checking empires.”

Facebook ranks stories that fact-checkers rate as counterfeit lower in the News Feed. The company claims that it is able to reduce the distribution of counterfeit stories by 80% on its platform. whether third-party fact-checkers like BOOM write articles debunking counterfeit stories, Facebook also shows them as Related Articles immediately below the counterfeit stories in the News Feed.

Facebook’s fact-checking efforts haven’t been met with universal acclaim, however. On Monday, the Philippines government criticized the company for its choice of two independent online fact-checking platforms in the country by saying they were biased against president Rodrigo Duterte.

And fact-checking news on Facebook only goes a shrimp way in India, where the primary vector for the spread of misinformation and hoaxes is WhatsApp, the company’s encrypted instant messaging app, which has more than 200 million users in the country. A WhatsApp spokesperson recently told BuzzFeed News that the company was “thinking through ways” it can prevent the spread of misinformation through its platform in the country.

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