Facebook started beating "state-controlled" labels on the media last week that are found to be under the thumb of a government.
With the labels, Facebook adopts a guideline that was announced in October. At that point, the platform introduced new electoral safeguards, including a promise to increase transparency by displaying the verified owner of a page and identifying government-controlled media on its page and in the platform's ad library.
This is just one of many efforts made in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election to curb a renewed rush of 2016 foreign crafting. Not that the interference went anywhere, mind you. Within a few days of the October announcement, Facebook announced it was pulling fake news networks related to Russia and Iran.
According to the NPR, pages and posts from at least 18 media have been labeled "state-controlled media" since Thursday's announcement, including Russia Today, Russia's Sputnik News, China's People's Newspaper, China Xinhua News and Iran’s Press TV. There are now transparency notices on the Facebook pages of all sales outlets, notifying users that they are "wholly or partly under the editorial control of a state", which is determined by factors such as funding, structure and journalistic standards.
Here are examples of what these labels look like:
Facebook's label for "state-controlled media" in the area of transparency on the Russian Sputnik news site. PICTURE: FacebookFacebook's label for "state-controlled media" in the area of transparency on the China Xinhuan News website. PICTURE: Facebook
Facebook cyber security chief Nathaniel Gleicher said in a post that after consulting with more than 65 global media, governance, human rights and development experts, the platform had defined its criteria for "state controlled" media. The same said: "The news you read is under the influence of a government."
We offer these publishers more transparency because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic support of a state, and we believe that people should know whether the news they read comes from a publication that may be under the influence of a Government.
The finding that a news agency is under state control goes beyond finding out who controls the persecution, Same said. In addition to the funding mechanisms, there are other ways to exercise editorial control:
Mission statement, mandate and / or public reporting on how the organization defines and fulfills its journalistic mission
Ownership structure such as information about owners, stakeholders, board members, management, government officials in management positions and disclosure of direct or indirect property by companies or individuals who hold an elected position
Editorial guidelines such as transparency regarding content sources as well as independence and variety of sources
Information on leadership and newsroom staff
Funding sources and revenue
Governance and accountability mechanisms such as corrective actions, complaints procedures, external assessments and supervisory bodies
In the coming months, Facebook will also begin excluding government-controlled outlets from buying advertising in the United States. The same noted that these outlets in the United States "rarely" advertise. The move to ban the purchase of foreign ads is based on "an abundance of caution to provide additional protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate" before the 2020 presidential election in November, he said.
The labels will initially be shown to U.S. Facebook users and, over time, introduced to other countries. They are displayed globally in the page view of the ad library, on pages and in the Page transparency section. In the United States, the label appeared in the newsfeed the week after the announcement.
Are US media classified as state controlled?
No it won't. While Facebook says Iran, Russia, and China have state-controlled outlets, it is decided that the US won't because the country has press freedom. In an interview with Reuters, Gleicher said that US news agencies do not receive a "state-controlled" label, even if they are operated by the US government. That's because Facebook believes that even state news agencies in the United States have editorial independence, he said.
Here, too, country-specific factors such as freedom of the press are one of the criteria on the basis of which the platform assesses which sales outlets are controlled by the state.
However, Facebook has recently been heavily criticized for looking away while President Trump appears to have violated the platform's rules. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was insulted after Facebook refused to do anything about the president's threatening statements on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
What the president said about the Black Lives Matter protests the murder of George Floyd – a black man who pleaded for his life as a white cop and knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes:
Any difficulty and we'll take control, but when the looting begins, the shooting starts.
The threatening statement was interpreted as a reference to a racist police chief of the 1960s who was known to command patrols in black quarters with shotguns and dogs during the civil rights era.
Twitter referred to Trump's statement as "glorifying violence" and hid it from the public unless a user clicks it. Earlier that week, Twitter first posted a fact-checking label on the President's tweets after the President accused California of using postal ballot papers to ensure a "rigged election".
Facebook, on the other hand, has not censored the President's statements, despite the company's express rules against language that could or might encourage violence.
Last week, several Facebook employees held a strike to protest the inactivity. Protests against CEO Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to cut Trump's post continued until this week. On Monday, moderators of the criticism joined Zuckerberg's stance on the subject.