Facebook is a powerful platform for news outlets to share their content to the general public. Now Facebook wants to identify to the public that some media outlets could be government mouthpieces.
“We are starting to apply labels to those state-controlled media outlets,” Facebook said on their blog. “We are providing greater transparency into these publishers because the combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government,” they added.
The labels will appear globally in the Ad Library Page view, on Pages and in the Page Transparency section. In the IUs, the label will also start to appear on posts in the News Feed over the course of this week.
Facebook also added that they will also begin labeling ads from these publishers later this year.
The company checks on various factors that may indicate editorial control by a government. This includes mission statement/mandate, ownership structure, editorial guidelines, information about the newsroom leadership and staff, sources of funding and governance and accountability mechanisms. If Facebook determines that they are enough protections to ensure editorial independence, they will not apply the label.
Facebook will also consider country-specific factors like press freedom and they will consult open-source research conducted by academics and leading experts.
They announced these integrity measures as part of the ways they would want to protect the integrity of the 2020 US elections. The Cambridge Analytica story damaged Facebook’s reputation and hurt their stock badly, and they would want to prevent such a situation from happening again.