Facebook and AFP allied to combat misinformation in LatAm

Facebook expanded its independent data verification program to five new countries in Latin America

The 2016 elections in the United States raised concerns about how social media platforms can be used to misinform.

Suspicions that Russia intervened in the elections with the spread of fake news led Facebook to take measures to prevent these scenarios from repeating. In the last two years, the company has changed its advertising policies, in addition to joining efforts with prestigious media to identify and eradicate fake news, like AFP.

These efforts were evident in the past Argentine elections, where a Facebook and AFP initiative teamed up to train journalists to unmask fake news that could influence voters.

The verification program is now available in more Latin American countries.

Now, Facebook expanded its independent data verification program to five new countries in Latin America. Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela will be part of its effort to reduce the spread of misinformation on the platform and strengthen the quality of content that people find online.

Starting Tuesday, November 5, the French news agency AFP will review and evaluate the accuracy of the stories in those five countries, including photos and videos. AFP has already done this kind of job in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay.

The Facebook data checking program began in 2016 and currently has more than 50 organizations worldwide, which operate in about 40 languages and are certified by the International Fact-Checking Network of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

“AFP is a respected news organization worldwide, which currently helps us verify information in other countries. We are excited to expand their efforts in Latin America to help us build a more informed community,” said Dulce Ramos, Facebook’s Strategic Partner Development Manager.

The verification program uses both community feedback and signals captured by artificial intelligence to detect potentially false or inaccurate publications, which are then sent to the verifiers for examination.

Pierre Ausseil, AFP Regional Director for Latin America, said: “We are proud of this new expansion of the AFP verification network in Latin America. We are especially interested in developing our agency’s data verification experience in the region and taking advantage of our robust network of Spanish-speaking journalists for the benefit of Internet users in Latin America.”

Once the content is marked as false, it will suffer a significant reduction in its distribution. Facebook will also display related articles prepared by the checkers immediately below the original story. The administrators of the Page and users will be notified if they try to share, or if they have already done so, a publication classified as false, making it easier for people to decide for themselves what to read, what to trust and what to share.

This extension of independent verification is part of a broader strategy to combat misinformation. In addition to third-party news verification, Facebook also supports efforts to train people with digital literacy skills, as well as disseminate tips that help detect fake news and provide users with context on the newsfeed posts.

In addition to AFP, the other members of the Facebook verification program in Latin America are: Chequeado, in Argentina; Animal Político Animal, in Mexico; La Silla Vacía and Colombiacheck, in Colombia; and Lupa, Aos Fatos and Estadão Verifica, in Brazil.