Reuters and Facebook said Wednesday they’re joining forces for a new fact-checking initiative to identify misinformation on social media. The pact calls for a new unit at Reuters to verify content posted on Facebook and Instagram and flag false or misleading video.
The partnership is with Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program. For Reuters, it’s “an extension of the media verification efforts Reuters has built through its long history of providing accurate and trustworthy news content.”
Doctored video is becoming an increasing problem online. For instance, Reuters Fact Check recently debunked a video of Kobe Bryant’s deadly helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26. Shortly after news of the crash spread, a dramatic but low-quality video began to circulate showing a helicopter spiraling into some hills that look kind of like California and bursting into flames. It was in fact a cropped version of another helicopter crash in the UAE in December of 2018.
Reuters will now assess the authenticity of user-generated photos, videos, headlines and other content on social media—in the run-up to the U.S. election and beyond—verifying for Facebook’s U.S. audience in English and Spanish.
Reuters is good but the team will apparently only have four people to start. They will analyze videos submitted to them by Facebook or flagged by the public. They’ll then publish their findings on the new Reuters Fact Check blogs as false, partially false, or true and use those conclusions to label misinformation and downrank them in the News Feed algorithm to limit their spread.
Facebook will be paying Reuters an undisclosed amount for the service.
“We are steadfastly recognizing the magnitude of misinformation taking place around the world. It’s a growing issue that impacts society daily and it’s a responsibility for news organizations and platforms to halt the spread of false news,” said Jess April, Reuters Director of Global Partnerships,
Keren Goldshlager, Facebook Integrity Partnerships said “Expanding our fact-checking program is an important part of our work to fight misinformation. We are thrilled that Reuters is joining our U.S. partnership, and know we’ll benefit deeply from their expertise in visual verification and user-generated content.”
Reuters has played an increasing role in researching and identifying various forms of synthetically generated media. Since 2018, Reuters has been working to educate the industry and the world about the ways in which images and videos can be distorted and how to spot them. Most recently, Reuters partnered with Facebook Journalism Project on an e-learning course to help newsrooms around the world identify and reject manipulated video, pictures and audio.