Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Fact-checking group Snopes ends Facebook relationship

The group said it wanted to establish whether it was providing a "net positive" for the online community

Snopes has not ruled out working with the social network in future. AFP
Snopes has not ruled out working with the social network in future. AFP

Snopes, one of Facebook’s first fact-checking partners, has said it is ending its relationship with the social media giant, even though the decision may cause financial distress.

“We want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff,” a blog post from Snopes founder David Mikkelson and head of operations Vinny Green read on Friday.

Snopes’ contract with Facebook was worth $100,000 in 2017, but was far more valuable than that for Facebook, which frequently touted its fact-checking partners as helping combat the fake news problem on its site. Snopes said it has "not ruled out" working with Facebook, or any other platforms, in the future.

Facebook has been working since the 2016 US election to rein in misinformation across its platform, though results have been spotty. External fact-checking partners have criticised Facebook’s attempts as only scratching the surface of false content on the social network.

The fact-checking efforts are often understaffed and have only recently begun to address the explosion of misleading photo and video content. Repeat offenders have also found workarounds. One site that was frequently flagged by fact-checkers simply changed the name of its site, Poynter reported this week.

“We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business,” Facebook said, noting that it has 34 other fact-checking partners.

Snopes began investigating urban legends, hoaxes, and folklore in 1994, morphing into an organisation which investigates fake news, memes and online phenomena as demand grew.

Fact-checking initiatives may not be as important for the site’s misinformation problems as other technological improvements, like detecting fake accounts trying to spread the content, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former head of security, said on Twitter.

“The fact checking partnerships were always PR, because it’s the kind of well-understood, visible intervention that journalists can see and cover,” Mr Stamos tweeted. “The really effective product changes are often invisible.”

Facebook recently entered into a relationship with UK-based fact-checkers Full Fact. The organisation has been debunking social media myths since 2010, and under it's new relationship with Facebook will review stories, images and videos, rating them based on their truthfulness.

Updated: February 2, 2019 02:17 AM

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