Middle East, Technology

Facebook to launch Arabic third-party fact-checking

Facebook announced that it will be launching third-party fact-checking in Arabic across the MENA region in partnership with Fatabyyano, an independent platform that specialises in news verification. The partnership works to support Fatabyyano’s efforts to combat false news by reducing the spread of misinformation on the platform. In its approach, Fatabyyano aims to improve the quality of news on Facebook by implementing steps to review and rate the accuracy of stories, including photos and videos, that appear in users’ News Feed.

The initiative will be spearheaded by Arabic-speaking Fatabyyano fact-checkers who will rely on a standard set of criteria to determine the authenticity of content. In line with all of Facebook’s partnerships globally, Fatabyyano is certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Networking. Based in Jordan, Fatabyyano services local communities across the MENA region including Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Libya, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, and Lebanon.

As the impact of COVID-19 has spread around the world, Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners have accelerated their efforts in debunking hoaxes across dozens of countries and languages. To support their work, Facebook recently announced that it partnered with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to launch a $1M USD grant program to aid fact-checkers in their work to fight misinformation surrounding the global pandemic.

In addition to providing critical funding enabling partners to maintain or increase their capacity during this time, the grants can also support proposals such as the translation of fact checks from native languages to different languages, multimedia production campaigns about COVID-19; new collaborations with health experts for evidence-based and scientific coverage, audience development initiatives that use innovative formats, as well as efforts by fact-checkers to support public authorities with reliable information for better communication about COVID-19.

Developed in accordance with Facebook’s three-part framework, the company’s third party fact-checking program seeks to improve the quality and authenticity of stories in the News Feed by removing accounts and content that violate its Community Standards or ad policies, reducing the distribution of false news and inauthentic content like clickbait, and informing people by giving them more context on the posts they see.

To ensure transparency, articles that are written by third-party fact-checkers on any piece of content will appear in Related Articles immediately below the original story in News Feed. If a post has been determined as being false, Page Admins and users on Facebook who try to share the post or have shared it in the past will receive a notification informing them of the inaccuracy of the story. In turn, this helps to promote news literacy and disrupt the financial incentives of spammers, while empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Mohamed Omar, News Partnerships Manager, Middle East and North Africa at Facebook, said, “At Facebook, we are making significant investments to promote high-quality journalism and news literacy. In collaborating with news organisations to prevent the spread of false news, our aim is to dramatically decrease the reach of stories used for economic and political gains. Across the MENA region, people access our platforms every day and we recognise the responsibility we have in ensuring they are given the tools to make informed decisions about the content they see. Our partnership with Fatabyyano underlines this commitment as we look to expand our third-party fact-checking program in the fight against misinformation.”

Dr. Moath Al Thaher, CEO and Founder of Fatabyyano, said, “We are pleased to partner with Facebook in our efforts to extend our fact-checking initiatives throughout the Middle East. As a locally established entity, information verification of news sources across our region remains our utmost priority. In light of the spread of misinformation seen across Facebook’s platforms, we are dedicated to minimising the distribution of false news in the Arabic language.”

Facebook’s fact-checking program, which now covers content in over 45 languages around the world, also extends to Facebook users the ability to provide feedback on stories they think are false, alerting fact-checkers to review suspicious or concerning content.

Facebook started the third-party fact-checking program in December 2016, which has grown to include over 55 partners including organisations such as AFP and, now, Fatabyyano.

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