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Facebook Unveils Three-pronged Strategy to Fight Fake News

Apart from this, Facebook is also using machine learning to help its teams detect fraud and enforce its policies against spam

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

To stop false news from spreading on its platform, Facebook has said it put in place a three-pronged strategy that constitutes removing accounts and content that violate its policies, reducing distribution of inauthentic content and informing people by giving them more context on the posts they see.

Another part of its strategy in some countries is partnering with third-party fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of articles and posts on Facebook, Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager on News Feed focused on false news, said in a statement on Thursday.

The social media giant is facing criticism for its role in enabling political manipulation in several countries around the world. It has also come under the scanner for allegedly fuelling ethnic conflicts owing to its failure stop the deluge of hate-filled posts against the disenfranchised Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“False news is bad for people and bad for Facebook. We’re making significant investments to stop it from spreading and to promote high-quality journalism and news literacy,” Lyons said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday told the European Parliament leaders that the social networking giant is trying to plug loopholes across its services, including curbing fake news and political interference on its platform in the wake of upcoming elections globally, including in India.

Lyons said Facebook’s three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories.

Also Read: Facebook Planning to Increase Their Capability Through Smartphones

“It dramatically decreases the reach of those stories. And it helps people stay informed without stifling public discourse,” Lyons added.

Although false news does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards, it often violates the social network’s polices in other categories, such as spam, hate speech or fake accounts, which it removes remove.

“For example, if we find a Facebook Page pretending to be run by Americans that’s actually operating out of Macedonia, that violates our requirement that people use their real identities and not impersonate others. So we’ll take down that whole Page, immediately eliminating any posts they made that might have been false,” Lyons explained.

Lyons said Facebook's three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories.
Lyons said Facebook’s three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories. Pixabay

Apart from this, Facebook is also using machine learning to help its teams detect fraud and enforce its policies against spam.

“We now block millions of fake accounts every day when they try to register,” Lyons added.

A lot of the misinformation that spreads on Facebook is financially motivated, much like email spam in the 90s, the social network said.

If spammers can get enough people to click on fake stories and visit their sites, they will make money off the ads they show.

Also Read: Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Users Based on Sensitive Interests

“We’re figuring out spammers’ common tactics and reducing the distribution of those kinds of stories in News Feed. We’ve started penalizing clickbait, links shared more frequently by spammers, and links to low-quality web pages, also known as ‘ad farms’,” Lyons said.

“We also take action against entire Pages and websites that repeatedly share false news, reducing their overall News Feed distribution,” Lyons said.

Facebook said it does not want to make money off of misinformation or help those who create it profit, and so such publishers are not allowed to run ads or use its monetisation features like Instant Articles. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Downplayed Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal

In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress that it learned in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had bought data from an app developer on Facebook that people had shared it with

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FILE - Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

Facebook in 2015 was aware that UK-based political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica may have been gathering users’ personal data but downplayed the whole episode till a newspaper revealed the truth three months later, show new documents.

According to a report in CNET on Friday, internal emails by Facebook Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal, made available by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, revealed Facebook was concerned about the “sketchy” Cambridge Analytica in September 2015.

The email correspondence started in September 2015 and ran through February 2016.

The Guardian first reported that Cambridge Analytica was supporting Ted Cruz’s campaign using Facebook data through an online quiz. The political research firm later worked on US President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“We suspect many of these companies are doing similar types of scraping, the largest and most aggressive on the conservative side being Cambridge Analytica, a sketchy (to say the least) data modelling company that has penetrated our market deeply,” read an email dated September 22, 2015.

In a blog post late on Friday, Grewal said that they agree with the District of Columbia Attorney General to jointly make public a September 2015 document in which Facebook employees discuss public data scraping.

“We believe this document has the potential to confuse two different events surrounding our knowledge of Cambridge Analytica. There is no substantively new information in this document and the issues have been previously reported,” Grewal defended.

According to him, these are two distinct issues.

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

“One involved unconfirmed reports of scraping — accessing or collecting public data from our products using automated means — and the other involved policy violations by Aleksandr Kogan, an app developer who sold user data to Cambridge Analytica,” he elaborated.

Facebook said it was not aware that Kogan sold data to Cambridge Analytica until December 2015.

“That is a fact that we have testified to under oath, that we have described to our core regulators, and that we stand by today,” said Grewal.

In September 2015, a Facebook employee shared unsubstantiated rumours from a competitor of Cambridge Analytica, which claimed that the data analytics company was scraping public data.

An engineer looked into this concern and was not able to find evidence of data scraping.

According to Facebook, the first indication of Kogan’s involvement didn’t come until December 2015, three months later.

Also Read: India can Lead in Setting Standards for Ethical use of AI: Microsoft Executive

“Cambridge Analytica was a clear lapse for us, which we have worked hard to address,” said Grewal.

Cambridge Analytica harvested data through an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” that offered personality predictions.

The Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” reveals the sordid tale of UK-based and now defunct political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica and its role in swaying US voters in the 2016 presidential elections which brought Trump to power via illegally accessing data of 87 million Facebook users.

In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress that it learned in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had bought data from an app developer on Facebook that people had shared it with. (IANS)