Partnership Press: Facebook and News Outlets Team to Fight Misinformation
In December 2016, shortly after the US presidential election, Facebook and five US news and fact-checking organizations—ABC News, Associated Press, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes—entered a partnership to combat misinformation. Motivated by a variety of concerns and values, relying on different understandings of misinformation, and with a diverse set of stakeholders in mind, they created a collaboration designed to leverage the partners’ different forms of cultural power, technological skill, and notions of public service.
Concretely, the partnership centers around managing a flow of stories that may be considered false. Here’s how it works: through a proprietary process that mixes algorithmic and human intervention, Facebook identifies candidate stories; these stories are then served to the five news and fact-checking partners through a partners-only dashboard that ranks stories according to popularity. Partners independently choose stories from the dashboard, do their usual fact-checking work, and append their fact-checks to the stories’ entries in the dashboards. Facebook uses these fact-checks to adjust whether and how it shows potentially false stories to its users.
Variously seen as a public relations stunt, a new type of collaboration, or an unavoidable coupling of organizations through circumstances beyond either’s exclusive control, the partnership emerged as a key example of platform-publisher collaboration. This report contextualizes the partnership, traces its dynamics through a series of interviews, and uses it to motivate a general set of questions that future platform press partnerships might ask themselves before collaborating.