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Fact-checking Agencies Stop Working with Facebook: Report

Studies and analyses of the initiative have repeatedly raised questions about whether the partnership was making a difference, and Facebook has refused to release meaningful data, the Guardian said

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Two leading fact-checking agencies have ended their partnerships with Facebook, striking a significant blow to the network’s efforts to fight fake news, media reports said.

The social network had paid the Associated Press and Snopes to combat its misinformation crisis. But both confirmed they stopped checking articles at the end of 2018, and will not renew their contracts, the BBC reported.

The Associated Press confirmed to TechCrunch that it was “not currently doing fact-checking work for Facebook”.

An AP spokesperson told the BBC: “AP constantly evaluates how to best deploy its fact-checking resources, and that includes ongoing conversations with Facebook about opportunities to do important fact-checking work on its platform.”

The AP representative contacted TechCrunch to say that although it was not doing fact checking work for the program, it was not leaving it altogether.

Snopes, the popular myth-busting website, has said it was ending its partnership with Facebook as part of a “difficult, but necessary change”.

A Snopes statement on Friday said it was “evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services” and wants the efforts to be “a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff”, the Guardian reported.

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Late last year, the Guardian had published a report that suggested fact-checking firms were frustrated by Facebook’s lack of transparency.

The article had quoted former Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski as saying: “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.”

Facebook had disputed the report, saying it had “several inaccuracies”.

Speaking about the pull out by the key fact checkers, Binkowski said she felt Facebook was too controlling over the fact-checking companies.

“Facebook can’t handle any kind of pushback, any kind of public criticism,” she told the BBC, adding that she felt the fact-checking programme at Facebook had been “mishandled”.

Facebook has worked with two other fact-checking agencies in the US. One, Politifact, told the BBC it intended to continue working with Facebook in 2019. The other, Factcheck,org, did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Snopes said it needed to “determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication and staff”.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech
Zuckerberg gears up for debates on public forums. VOA

The site’s founder David Mikkelson, and head of operations Vinny Green, said in a blog post that the firm did not rule out working with Facebook in future.

“We hope to keep an open dialogue going with Facebook to discuss approaches to combating misinformation that are beneficial to platforms, fact-checking organisations and the user community alike,” the company said.

The blog post acknowledged that choosing not to renew its work with Facebook would have financial repercussions for the company.

In 2017, Facebook paid Snopes $100,000 for its work. Snopes has not yet released its financial disclosures for 2018.

“Forgoing an economic opportunity is not a decision that we or any other journalistic enterprise can take lightly in the current publishing landscape,” the company said.

Facebook said it was committed to fighting fake news and said it would expand its efforts in 2019.

“We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“We have strong relationships with 34 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 16 languages, and we plan to expand the programme this year by adding new partners and languages.”

Facebook’s fact checking collaboration began after the 2016 US presidential poll led to significant concerns about propaganda and false news polluting the site.

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It has since experimented with different tools to stop the spread of misinformation, including limiting the reach of articles debunked by journalist partners.

Studies and analyses of the initiative have repeatedly raised questions about whether the partnership was making a difference, and Facebook has refused to release meaningful data, the Guardian said. (IANS)

Next Story

No one Would Buy a Huawei Smartphone Sans Google or Facebook

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle

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FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Nishant Arora

Be honest and ask yourself: Would you buy a smartphone that neither supports Android operating system and Google apps nor comes pre-installed with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? This is the scenario which Huawei (and its sub-brand Honor) smartphones stare at in the near future – and an imminent fall if the issue does not get resolved in the next one-two quarters.

Although the Chinese communications giant aims to launch its own operating system called “Hongmeng” to replace the Android OS on its smartphones but ‘abhi Dilli door hai’ as the OS has to see the light of the day and then users’ approval, which is the most critical part.

The absence of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp that truly define user experiences is a double whammy for Huawei.

Currently the second largest smartphone player in the world (powered by stupendous growth in non-US regions like Europe and Asia), Huawei has sensed the tough road ahead. A recent report in Nikkei Asian Review claimed that Huawei has “downgraded its forecast for total smartphone shipments in the second half of 2019 by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent from the previous estimate”.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, almost half of Huawei’s smartphone volumes come from outside China with its wide smartphone portfolio which runs on Android with Google Mobile Services (GMS) – a collection of Google applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) that help support functionality across devices.

“China has its own ecosystem of apps which are hugely popular but only in China. Outside it, almost all popular Android apps are from Google or from US-based companies. These apps are the heart of experience of any smartphone user these days,” Singh told IANS.

“Without these apps present on its own OS, it will be very very tough for Huawei to pull in demand for its phones running on its own OS,” he added.

Sandwiched between the ongoing US-China trade war, Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei is frantically looking to salvage its prestige and fast cover the lost ground.

The company is also looking at the Indian smartphone market which has touched 450 million smartphone users and has a great potential to grow.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

“In India, they have never been really able to scale up to be a major player. But considering the growth potential in India, the decision by Google and Facebook has put a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for the country as the next growth market in next two-three years outside of China,” Singh told IANS.

Huawei pipped Apple as the second largest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2019 after Samsung. It clocked 17 per cent market share in the global smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Chinese tech giant, meanwhile, has denied reports that it has cut down smartphone manufacturing.

The company, however, is reassessing its target to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor by 2020, after the US trade ban was put in place.

On May 15, US President Donald Trump effectively banned Huawei with a national security order.

Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of the US President Donald Trump’s order to ban it.

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According to reports, Google has also discussed with the US government about an exemption from the Huawei ban, saying it is bad for the company’s technology business.

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle.

Unless, a miracle happens. (IANS)