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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Facebook adds labels identifying state-controlled media

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Facebook will soon add labels to news outlets owned or otherwise controlled by a government, marking that information as, if not necessarily false or unreliable, at least worth considering the origin of. Those so labeled will also be banned from buying ads starting this summer.

The company announced its plan to do this a few months ago as one part of its ongoing “election integrity efforts,” along with such things as requiring a confirmed owner for pages and banning anti-voting ads.

Under the new policy, which should roll out to all users over the next week, news organizations “that may be under the influence of a government” will have a subtle but clear label as such, as will their posts. You can see what one of those labels looks like in the top image, and here’s how it would look in the “about” and details pages:

The warning reads: “This publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a state. This is determined by a range of factors, including but not limited to funding, structure and journalistic standards.”

These organizations have immense reach even outside the countries they’re based in: Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project has tracked this engagement and the strategies used to accomplish it closely in an ongoing series of papers.

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