Facebook Canada launches third-party fact-checking program

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Facebook Canada has launched a third-party fact-checking program in collaboration with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The program is part of Facebook Canada’s larger Elections Integrity Initiative, which aims to combat the spread of fake political news on the social network. Specifically, Facebook has been working to make its platform safer and more secure leading up to the 2019 Canadian federal election in response to reports that foreign agents may attempt to influence the democratic process.

AFP fact-checkers, which are based in Canada and certified by a non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, will be responsible for reviewing Canadian news stories on Facebook in both English and French to rate their accuracy. When necessary, fact-checkers may write articles providing additional information to a news story. These articles will appear immediately below the original story in the News Feed.

Based on the fact-checkers’ ratings, Canadians on Facebook will then be informed if the stories they have shared are false. Meanwhile, Pages on Facebook that are identified as repeated sources of false news will be seen less often in users’ News Feeds.

“We are committed to fighting the spread of false news and misinformation on multiple fronts, employing a variety of tools and tactics. Working with AFP on the third-party fact-checking program is a continuation of our Canadian Elections Integrity Initiative, and one of the ways we hope to better identify and reduce the reach of false news that people share on our platform,” said Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada, in a press statement.

“In addition to the fact-checking program, our tactics include disrupting financial incentives, taking action against fake accounts, applying machine learning to help diminish spam, reducing the posts people see that link to low-quality web pages, and providing people with easier access to additional perspectives and information.

“We are delighted with this new contract which is testament to AFP’s expertise and credibility in the verification of information,” said Michèle Léridon, global news director at AFP. “At a time when false news and misinformation is proliferating widely, this project with Facebook touches directly on the agency’s founding mission and the work being done by our network of journalists every day to provide a reliable and high quality verified news service.”

Outside of fact-checkers, Facebook has also been working with digital and media literacy not-for-profit group Media Smarts to help protect politicians and political parties from any possible outside threats.