Facebook to start labeling state media

Facebook to start labeling state media

The tags will immediately begin to appear on pages belonging to media such as Russia Today and China’s Xinhua. Starting next week, users in the United States will begin to see the label appear in the individual publications of these points of sale, labels that will eventually be introduced in other countries.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook’s security policy, told CNN Business in an interview on Thursday that the company is taking that approach to let users know more about the origin of their information.

“The concern for us is that the state media combine the agenda setting power of a media entity with the strategic backing of a state,” said Gleicher. “If you are reading the coverage of a protest, it is really important to know who is writing that coverage and what motivation they have. The goal of this is to ensure that the public sees and understands who is behind it.”

A mockup image depicting how Facebook plans to identify state-backed media content. Facebook users in the United States will soon begin to see the labels of state-controlled media in individual posts.
Facebook first announced plans for the labels in December, but the launch comes as the state-controlled media, particularly from countries like China and Russia, have been clouding the waters around the coronavirus pandemic and riots over the murder of George Floyd by the police. The state media, especially in China, have attorney following recent protests last week, questioning why some US officials praise Hong Kong protesters while criticizing US protesters.
A mockup image depicting how Facebook plans to identify state-backed media content. Facebook will begin releasing new tags and information on the pages of state-controlled media.

Later this summer, Facebook will also block state-controlled media outlets from running ads in the United States, “as a precaution” before the US election in November, Gleicher said.

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Gleicher said there are no plans to roll out the advertising bans elsewhere, as state media is the only form of local news in some regions of the world.

Gleicher said Facebook consulted with 65 experts to create their own criteria for defining which media to label as state-controlled media. These criteria include where the media funds come from, editorial transparency, ownership structure and governance, internal accountability mechanisms and third party confirmation of independence. An entity can be state funded, but considered independent. Although an initial list of outlets, including CCTV from China and Xinhua, Russia Today and Sputnik will receive the label immediately, Gleicher cautioned that the list is “dynamic” and will change over time. Entities can also appeal its label.

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In 2018 YouTube started labelled videos that came from state-funded media, sparking some protests from media outlets like Voice of America that are funded by the US government. USA But they say they have a “legislative firewall” that would ban reporting interference.
Twitter doesn’t label state-controlled media, but in August stopped accepting advertising from state-controlled news media entities.

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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