Facebook begins health fact-checking program in India

Facebook on Wednesday joined hands with The Healthy Indian Project (THIP) — a specialized fact-checking site — as part of its third-party fact-checking in to combat Covid-19 and all other health-related misinformation on social media platforms.

During the pandemic, Facebook removed more than 18 million pieces of harmful misinformation across its platform and Instagram and labeled over 167 million fake news posts on Covid-19 with the help of third-party fact-checkers.

The partnership with THIP “will enhance its capabilities to understand and curb health-related misinformation on the platform”, the social media giant said in a statement.

THIP Media works with verified medical professionals to fact check misleading news and claims about health, medicines, diet and treatment in English, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati.

Globally, Facebook is working with 80 fact-checking partners that help in content monitoring in more than 60 languages. Facebook’s fact-checking partners have been certified through the independent, non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.

In India, Facebook has 10 fact-checking partners, one of the largest after the US. This includes India Today Group, Vishvas News (Dainik Jagran), Factly, Newsmobile, Fact Crescendo, BOOM Live, AFP, NewsChecker and Quint who fact-check in 11 Indian languages along with English.

The Indian languages include Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Assamese and Kannada.

“Third-party fact-checkers evaluate stories, check if the stories are factual, and rate their accuracy. When a fact-checker rates a story as false, Facebook shows it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its dissemination and reducing the number of people who view it,” the company said.

Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise temporarily removed.

Community members are presented with a pop-up notice if someone tries to share a fact-checked post so that people can decide for themselves what to read, trust and share.

People who share a story that’s later debunked are notified so they know there is additional reporting on that piece of content, the company added.

Facebook has also launched a fellowship with 10 fact-checking organisations (including Factly and Quint in India) and will provide virtual training sessions by third party experts to help the participating fact checkers enhance their capabilities to combat misinformation related to Covid-19.

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