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Facebook Fact-Checking Effort on the Rocks After Journalists Speak Out (Report)

Social network launched the fact-checking initiative in 2016 in an effort to combat the spread of fake news

In 2016, Facebook partnered with fact-checking and news organizations in an attempt to stem the tide of misinformation and fake news that had been allowed to percolate on the platform, but two years later the project is in disarray according to a new report in The Guardian. 

“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” Brooke Binkowski, a former managing editor at the fact checking website Snopes, told the paper. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care.”

Snopes was part of a bipartisan set of web properties, including the Associated Press and the Weekly Standard, that partnered with Facebook for the effort of combating fake news online. Binkowski, who has since parted ways with Snopes to form her own fact-checking venture, said her concerns were frequently ignored by Facebook brass and that the problem was even worse overseas, where the company faces less media scrutiny.

“I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model,” Binkowski said — with the paper also reporting that many of the remaining journalists at Facebook were looking to cut ties.

Reps for Facebook responded to The Guardian piece in a forceful blog post, in which they accused the paper of publishing multiple “inaccuracies.”

“We have been committed to fighting misinformation for years now and have strong relationships with our third-party fact-checking partners — we now have 35 partners in 24 countries around the world,” the company said. “We value our ongoing partnerships and the work that these journalists do, and we’re planning to expand the program to even more countries in 2019.”