Social Media Society & Culture

Facebook launches Arabic fact-checking with AFP

Fake news and misinformation campaigns have been proliferating across active social media platforms in various languages. Tackling this behaviour would require independent teams to fact-check news topics, and Facebook is expanding it for Arabic users with AFP (Agence France-Presse).

You’d likely question the authenticity of a news article shared on Facebook when it looked like it came from a dubious page or just blindly re-shared by friends. It’s a problem that requires a multi-prong approach to check the authenticity of the topic being discussed, and it’s spread across multiple languages.

The Middle East has become a volatile ground for fake news being circulated across social media. That’s about to change with Facebook having launched a fact-checking initiative in Arabic, and it’s being done in partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP) MENA. This makes Arabic the 17th language added to Facebook’s fact-checking programme.

Tacking the problem on Facebook

The Beirut-based office of AFP will be undertaking this programme, independent in the news topics they choose to investigate. This team will work in liaison with journalists in the region’s bureau, helping to verify factually suspect content being spread in the Middle East and North Africa region. They would follow the same editorial process

Upon discovering questionable news articles in Arabic on Facebook, the Beirut-based will be publishing their rebuttals on the AFP’s Fact Check blog (currently only has English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). The very same rebuttals will also flagged up by Facebook to their users based on the news article.

The Arabic fact-checking programme will be spanning published news stories and include verifying images, which AFP has plenty of expertise. This also yields the benefit of combatting misinformation off the Facebook platform as well, as the whole initiative will begin to roll-out this year.

Given the large user base of Facebook users covering the MENA region (at least 160 million users) and the mounting criticisms for not doing enough to tackle the problem, it’s an important step for the social media giant to start combatting spread of misinformation given the nature of the MENA region and the growth potential it yields.

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