Facebook is trying a brand-new approach to its fake news problem: hire part-time amateurs to Google whether things they see on Facebook are true or not.
Facebook announced Wednesday that as part of its effort to clean up its platform, it will hire part-time contractors, known as “community reviewers” who will have no previous journalism or fact-checking experience, and use them to check the millions of pieces of content flagged each day as questionable by the company’s artificial intelligence algorithms.
These contractors will be charged with debunking the most obviously fake content on the platform, before passing the information to the third-party, professional fact-checking organizations that Facebook already works with who will make a final decision.
The aim of the new contractors is to make the process of fact-checking much faster.
The reviewers will be representative of Facebook's U.S. user base and “reflect the diverse viewpoints of Facebook users,” Henry Silverman, a product manager at Facebook, wrote in the blog post.
Silverman claims Facebook has “made significant progress reducing misinformation through our partnership with some of the world’s leading fact-checkers.”
But that’s not exactly what those at the coal-face of fact-checking have been saying.
Bloomberg reported earlier this year how just 11 people were trying to stem the flow of fake news on Facebook and WhatsApp during the Indian elections, while the Guardian reported that fact-checkers had lost trust in Facebook and the fact-checking programs were producing very little results.
Facebook is clearly willing to invest some resources in trying to combat misinformation — last week it expanded its fact-checking on Instagram — but hanging over all of these efforts is the controversial decision not to fact-check content posted by political figures.
In a bid to avoid claims of bias, the company says the part-time contractors will be representative of a wide range of political viewpoints. But given how conservative voices continue to blame Facebook for a non-existent anti-conservative bias, these amateur fact-checkers could become an easy target for those looking to claim their voices are being silenced.
Cover: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about the new Facebook News feature at the Paley Center For Media on October 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)