Starting today, Facebook will label posts by state-controlled media on the social network. The company first announced the move in October, part of larger efforts to fight disinformation during elections.
In a post announcing the update, Facebook said:
We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.
Facebook also said it would begin labelling ads by such outlets. They “rarely advertise in the US,” but the company will also block such ads from appearing within the country ahead of the November 2020 election.
In the US, the labels will appear right on user’s feeds, while in the rest of the world, they’ll show up on Pages, the Page Transparency section, and the Ad Library Page view.
Facebook says it’s determined the outlets to label by consulting “more than 65 experts around the world specializing in media, governance, and human rights and development.”
What counts as ‘state-controlled’ goes beyond government funding, with Facebook assessing factors like a publication’s ownership structure, editorial guidelines, missing statements, national laws, and more. Organizations do have the option to appeal the label, however.
Facebook says it’s starting with a few labels at a time, with more to be added over time as it refines its approach. It’s encouraging to see the company taking stronger steps to prevent disinformation. Now if only it could do the same for incitements to violence by world leaders…