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Facebook Planning to Exempt Opinion Pieces from Fact-checking Programme

Since the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has been trying to tackle the spread of misinformation on its platform

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FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook is reportedly planning to exempt opinion pieces and satire write-ups from its third-party fact-checking programme which it uses to flag misinformation and fake news on its platform.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “publishers that get their content labelled as false by fact checkers will also be able to appeal to Facebook”.

Fact-checkers currently have nine rating options to review content and satire and opinion are part of those options.

The social media giant last week exempted politicians from its third-party fact-checking programme, saying its efforts to curb fake news and misinformation don’t apply to politicians globally.

Nick Clegg who is vice president of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook said the company does not believe it’s appropriate to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny.

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The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple’s App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

“We have had this policy on the books for over a year now, posted publicly on our site under our eligibility guidelines. This means that we will not send organic content or ads from politicians to our third-party fact-checking partners for review,” Clegg said in a statement.

However, when a politician shares previously debunked content including links, videos and photos, Facebook plans to demote that content, display related information from fact-checkers, and reject its inclusion in advertisements.

“From now on, we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.”

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“However, in keeping with the principle that we apply different standards to content for which we receive payment, this will not apply to ads — if someone chooses to post an ad on Facebook, they must still fall within our Community Standards and our advertising policies,” Clegg elaborated.

Since the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has been trying to tackle the spread of misinformation on its platform. (IANS)

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Facebook Raises Questions Over EU Ruling on Removing Content

In a public Q&A, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said that the ruling sets a "very troubling precedent"

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Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook has raised objections over the European Union (EU) ruling that the bloc’s member countries can not only order the removal of content in their own jurisdiction, but all over the world.

According to the social networking giant, the ruling opens the door for courts to order the removal of content that is similar to the illegal speech, “meaning that something you posted might be removed even if you knew nothing about the earlier post that a European country had deemed illegal”.

“Imagine something you wrote and shared on Facebook was taken down, not because it violated our rules, and not because it broke the law in your country, but because someone was able to use different laws in another country to have it removed,” Monika Bickert, VP, Global Policy Management at Facebook, said in a statement on Monday.

“Imagine as well that your speech was deemed illegal not by a judge who carefully weighed the facts, but by automated tools and technology,” she added.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Facebook can be forced to remove content internationally.

The ruling arose from a personal defamation case brought by an Austrian politician.

The post in question shared a news article in which the Austrian politician had outlined her and her party’s views on immigration, together with a comment from a Facebook user strongly critiquing the Austrian politician.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

The court’s ruling raises critical questions for freedom of expression, in two key respects, said Bickert.

First, it undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on another country.

“This is especially important with laws governing speech, because what is legally acceptable varies considerably in different parts of the world and even within the EU. The ruling also opens the door for other countries around the world, including non-democratic countries who severely limit speech, to demand the same power,” said Facebook.

Second, the ruling might lead to a situation in which private internet companies could be forced to rely on automated technologies to police and remove “equivalent” illegal speech.

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In a public Q&A, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said that the ruling sets a “very troubling precedent”.

“We have had precedents but we have successfully fought them. This is one where a lot of the details of exactly how this gets implemented are going to depend on national courts across Europe, and what they define as the same content versus roughly equivalent content.

“This is something we and other services will be litigating and getting clarity on what this means. I know we talk about free expression as a value and I thought this was a fairly troubling development,” Zuckerberg added. (IANS)