Facebook will start fact-checking images and videos, the company said Thursday, expanding its review efforts to posts that are traditionally harder to monitor.
“People share millions of photos and videos on Facebook every day. We know that this kind of sharing is particularly compelling because it’s visual. That said, it also creates an easy opportunity for manipulation by bad actors,” Facebook said in a blog post.
Edited photos and strong visuals were common among the posts by Russian agents attempting to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other global elections, according to examples released by members of Congress.
Facebook has been ramping up fact-checking efforts and third-party human reviewers in recent months in an effort to protect future elections from foreign interference. The company has already detected what it called “coordinated inauthentic behavior” ahead of the midterm elections in November.
“Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken,” Facebook said. “Fact-checkers are able to assess the truth or falsity of a photo or video by combining these skills with other journalistic practices, like using research from experts, academics or government agencies.”
Facebook users can also flag photos or images for review.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has scheduled a meeting with state attorneys general in September to discuss a “growing concern” that tech companies may be “intentionally stifling” the free flow of ideas on their platforms.
In a statement issued right after executives from Facebook and Twitter finished testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also suggested that the platforms were running afoul of antitrust laws, reports The Hill.
“The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement issued near the end of the congressional hearing.
President Trump and conservative House Republicans have repeatedly aired complaints about bias against conservatives on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media platforms. Those companies though have denied censoring conservative speech.
Have any doubts about censorship & bias on social media? View these two examples of Facebook bias below.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday morning on efforts to combat foreign influence operations on their platforms.
Dorsey will face a second grilling later Wednesday from lawmakers in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is expected to face questions on the allegations of conservative censorship.
The DOJ’s move is the first sign of the administration taking concrete action to address alleged bias following President Trump’s public accusations against tech companies last week. It also comes at a time of tension between the president and his top law enforcement officer. Trump has repeatedly chastised Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, faulting the attorney general in August for not taking control of what he sees as “corruption” at the Justice Department. And on Monday, Trump blasted Sessions on Twitter over recent indictments against two Republican congressmen.
The announcement also signals that the Justice Department is paying attention to the growing movement to challenge Facebook’s and Google’s market power.
Trump said the companies might have antitrust problems but declined to discuss whether they should be broken up.
Google has been dogged by massive antitrust fines in Europe, where regulators have accused the company of using its dominance in internet search, mobile operating systems and online advertising to suppress competition.
Facebook is also facing antitrust scrutiny in the EU.
But the U.S. has yet to take any action against the internet giants over their market power.
Spokespeople for Google, Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 21st, 2018