Facebook to fact check videos and photos

Fact checking our politicians is one of the great things that has sprouted up from the Internet. Is Donald Trump lying or stretching the truth about something? It’s much easier to find that out now in the digital age than when say Grover Cleveland was president. According to the Washington Post last week Trump has made over 5,000 statements that were either false or misleading during his presidency so far. But what about the information that us average people see that isn’t being fact checked? How is what we see on those platforms free of fake news? It seems near impossible with everything that makes the rounds on those platforms but Facebook believes it has a way to fact check what has not been able to be done before: pictures and videos.

Two weeks ago Facebook announced that it would begin fact checking photos and videos in addition to articles posted on their platform. An AI system had been devised that would flag potentially false or misleading content so that a human could review it. This program will begin in 17 different countries including the US.

How can you fact check a photo or video?

It is not entirely fact checking a photo but more of making the photo is of the subject matter that it claims to be and was not taking from something else. All photos have metadata attached to it like when the photo was taken. That information will be analyzed to at least make sure that the photo is as authentic as can possibly be and that it is not either manipulated or fabricated, out of context or that the text or audio makes a false claim. No one wants a repeat of the border detention scandal that so enraged many in this country only to find that the photos used were 4 years old. Or perhaps the controversy over the crowd size of Trump’s inauguration could be settled.

Fake news can still get posted

These photos or videos will not be fact checked before being posted so nothing should be prevented from being posted that does not violate the terms of service. There are several metrics that Facebook will use to determine whether something needs to be checked like feedback from users. Following that the fact checkers, who are not employed by Facebook, are to use their skills in analyzing these mediums as well as the journalistic process building on research from experts, academics or the government. So that means that fake news can potentially still be on the platform.

Can this work?

With millions of photos and videos being shared on Facebook daily this will be a tough nut to crack. As with everything that is done there will be errors as the system is made better (lets just hope the errors affect everyone and not just one certain group of people). It will take time for this to be effective. With the EU and GDPR this has been in the works for some time so it should be no surprise.

This country (and the world) would be much better off if we knew that the information that we were seeing was correct. It will be a great day when we no longer have to worry about whether a news outlet or presenter is biased and slants something to suit their agenda. For most Americans as long as this is done fairly and without bias they will be fine with it. If it is not it only gives more ammunition to Donald Trump that there is a conspiracy out to get him and emboldens him. Facebook has not had a good year, from Cambridge Analytica to Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress to revelations of user information being sold so this is a chance that they have to get back in the good books of their user base. Considering there are some that believe that Facebook is a dying entity they need some good PR. We’ll see if this a good first step to weeding out fake news. No one reads corrections anymore and with rumors and fake news being halfway around the world before the real news gets dressed something needs to be done.

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