- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Facebook announced Thursday that it is ready to “roll out” a process by which alleged “fake news” is identified and flagged for users.

Concern for so-called “fake news,” which has permeated the media landscape since Democrat Hillary Clinton’s Election Day loss to Republican Donald Trump, will now be met by Facebook in a major way.

The social media giant’s newsroom announced that it will partner with third-party organizations to identify hoaxes and unreliable stories.

“We believe providing more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share,” the company said. “We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations.”

According to Facebook, “if the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.”

Still, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company said its workforce and partners “cannot become arbiters of truth” while essentially designating them as such. One of the organizations Facebook plans on teaming up with is Snopes, which bills itself as an “essential resource” for truth.

Others groups the social media platform will work with include ABC News, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Associated Press.

Conservative commentators were quick to put forth a “who watches the watchmen” counter-argument.

“Sometimes the experts are also partisans who have an agenda. That was certainly the case with regard to Obamacare,” wrote Hotair’s John Sexton on Thursday. “Health care wonks like Ezra Klein and Jonathan Gruber knew a great deal about the program. They were also prepared to help their Democratic allies in government lie to the public if necessary to see it succeed. It’s not that they didn’t know the truth it’s just that they weren’t going to share all of it (except occasionally to a friendly audience). Now imagine applying these new rules retroactively to this story. Would any story which challenged Obama’s statement be flagged as ‘fake news’ prior to 2013?”

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway concurred.

“Two university studies show PolitiFact rates the GOP as liars over Democrats at a rate of 3 to 1 and 2 to 1 respectively. […] I once asked the head of PolitiFact to explain a university study suggesting they were biased,” Mr. Hemingway said in a series of tweets. “He no joke told me that based on what people tell him at parties he thinks he’s fair. I could go on … but the idea of PolitiFact censoring political speech at any major social media network is horrifying.”

Facebook, for all intents and purposes, dismissed such concerns as hyperbole over a work-in-progress with good intentions.

“We’re excited about this progress, but we know there’s more to be done,” the company wrote. “We’re going to keep working on this problem for as long as it takes to get it right.”

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