The Associated Press (AP) announced that it will expand its collaboration with Facebook to “identify and debunk” false and misleading stories related to the US midterm election that are circulating on the platform.
The collaboration began in 2016, when the publication and the social network worked together to reduce circulation of “fake news” stories, after some 126 million users had. This expansion will leverage the presence of AP reporters in 50 states in order to bring a local focus to Facebook’s fact-checking initiative.
In a statement, the AP said that its journalists have been assigned to fact-check national, state and local election-related stories on Facebook, supplying related AP news stories that debunk misinformation, validate a story as true or provide additional background and context.
“AP is committed to accurate and informative reporting on politics across the United States and worldwide," said AP senior vice president and executive editor Sally Buzbee. "Fact checking has long been a critical component of AP’s coverage of campaigns and government, and we are thrilled to work with Facebook to further surface that strong, fact-based reporting among members of its community.”
Added Meredith Carden of the Facebook Journalism Project's strategic partner development team: “We’re invested in fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, and AP’s commitment to significantly increase its fact-checking work in the lead-up to midterm elections will help the Facebook community better assess the accuracy of stories and make more informed decisions."
Facebook has taken a multi-layered approach to its handling of fake news stories, an area of focus since the 2016 US presidential election that Zuckerberg has considered part of his personal challenge for the year. After sending out a “dinky,” two-question survey in an attempt to weed out fake news stories, the company also tested a downvote button for any stories shared on the site.
The platform has also resorted to using direct mail to verify identities of political ad buyers. Internationally, Facebook also attempted to strip Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Slovakia, but stopped after six months due to outrage. Even with the company’s attempts to removing itself as a factor in election coverage for malevolent actors, some believe that Facebook remains a puppet for Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s informational warfare.
The Associated Press has reason enough to stay involved with Facebook, the news outlet has been the number-one provider of stories for the platform. In a study taken it 2017, the AP generated over 35m engagements a month from their stories.