A few months ago, in the wake of the fake-news debacle surrounding the election, Facebook announced partnerships with four independent fact-checking organizations to stomp out the spread of misinformation on its site. If investigators from at least two of these organizations—Snopes, Politifact, ABC News, and FactCheck.org, all members of the Poynter International Fact Checking Network—flag an article as bogus, that article now shows up in people’s News Feeds with a banner marking it as disputed.
Facebook has said its employees have a hand in this process by separating personal posts from links that present themselves as news, but maintains that they play no role in judging the actual content of the flagged articles themselves. “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves,” wrote Adam Mosseri, the vice president of Facebook’s News Feed team, in introducing the change.
The announcement was an early step in Facebook’s ongoing revision of how it defines its role as a platform on which people consume news. Through the tumult of the election and under heavy public pressure, the company has gone from firmly denying any status as a media company to now acknowledging (albeit vaguely) some degree of responsibility for the information people take in. “The things that are happening in our world now are all about the social world not being what people need,” Mark Zuckerberg told Recode after he published a sweeping, 6,000-word manifesto on the company’s future last month. “I felt like I had to address that.”