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Facebook Names New Fact-Checker for Fake News in Greece

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Credit: Nenad Stojkovic/ CC BY 2.0

Facebook announced on Thursday that their new fact-checker against what they consider fake news in Greece will be the French news agency Agence France Press, or AFP.

Facebook has been using fact-checkers to combat what they judge to be fake news for the past two years in Greece, and has in the past been partnered with Greek firm “Ellinika Hoaxes.”

Facebook combats “fake news” in Greece

“We are pleased to welcome AFP as a fact-checking partner in Greece and Cyprus. AFP is a valuable partner with experienced journalists around the world,” said Sophie Eyears, Facebook’s Strategic Partner Development Officer.

“Together with Ellinika Hoaxes, their vital work will help us continue to reduce the spread of Greek-language misinformation on our platforms,” she continued.

AFP is already being used to fact-check news for 18 countries on Facebook. Overall, the American tech giant works with more than 80 partners to fact-check content on the site in more than 60 languages.

Facebook also announced a new educational advertising campaign lasting two weeks in Greece, to explain to users how it works with fact checkers to filter what it deems to be fake news, and how individuals can detect false information on the internet.

Currently, Facebook has a complicated but efficient system for dealing with fake news. When a partner news agency evaluates a story as false, Facebook adds a warning tag to the content and significantly reduces its distribution across the platform.

In addition, pages and domains that repeatedly post fake news are not suggested to users, which reduces their distribution. Their ability to advertise, or monetize, in order to raise revenue is also taken away.

These measures seem to be working to tamp down what the tech behemoth judges as fake news. When a warning tag for fake news appears on a post, 95 percent of the time people do not click on that news story, according to Facebook.

Past controversy with Greek fact-checkers

When Ellinika Hoaxes was first announced as Facebook’s fake news fact-checkers in Greece in May of 2019, there were many reservations voiced by parliamentarians.

Greece’s then Deputy Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Minister Lefteris Kretsos was critical of Facebook’s decision. He suggested that Ellinika Hoaxes is not of the same caliber as Facebook’s partners in other countries.

“It is surprising that the global technological giant Facebook, with an estimated stock market value of 534 billion dollars (Galloway, 2018) and roughly three billion users worldwide… has decided to assign the job of guarding the truth of news on the Greek internet to a company that does not have the same expertise and experience as Facebook’s corresponding partners in other countries, such as AFP and Associated Press,” Kretsos said in a 2019 statement.

These concerns were shared by then-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza party as a whole.

However, Ellinika Hoaxes was the only available option to Facebook at the time, as it was the only Greek-language agency accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

The new announcement that AFP is joining forces with Ellinika Hoaxes will likely appease past naysayers.

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