Social media platforms have been struggling to contain the spread of misinformation on their platforms and that includes Facebook. The social media giant boasts of having 2.5 billion active users on its platform but at the same time acknowledges to have been plagued with viral hoaxes, rumours, and fake news on its platforms.
The huge user base calls for a big number of fact-checkers, all of which need to work independently for specific regions and areas. However, that's not the case, at least for Australia. The country has an active number of 17 million users but the number of fact-checkers is nowhere near this number. According to a report by BuzzFeed, the number of people deciding what's real and what's not on Facebook is only seven in Australia.
Only 2 fact-checking agencies in Australia
As per the report, the fact-checking brigade of seven completed 220 fact checks since April 2019-- about one check every one-and-a-half days on average. Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the Australian Associated Press (AAP) are Facebook's two partner third-party fact-checking agencies. The report says that AFP's two fact-checking journalists that have completed 140 checks since April 2019 whereas the AAP's team of five did 80 fact checks in that time.
How Facebook fact-checking works
Facebook uses third-party fact-checking agencies to identify fake news on its platform. These independent companies review claims made on Facebook and if found to be fake, the social media labels the post as false. Facebook had launched the program in late 2016, and it has a total of 55 partners certified by the International Fact-Checking Network, most of which are paid for the fact checks.
Facebook says that when a post is found to contain false information by a fact-checker, it limits the posts' reach by more than 80 per cent-- making it harder for the people to find in their news feed. The problem of misinformation is prevalent on the social media platform throughout the world and the fact-checkers are Facebook's tool in this fight. However, the company is seemingly at the losing end in Australia.
Australia's fact-checking staff is clearly underpowered when you compare it to the other parts of the world. In January 2020, American news outlet The Hill reported that the US has six fact-checking partners that employ a total of 26 full-time staff to check a total of 200 posts per month. In related news, this is not the first instance of understaffing at Facebook that we've heard about. Recently, Instagram CEO mentioned that the reason why they haven't made an iPad version of the app is that they "only have so many people, and lots to do".