Home / Industry / Media /  Facebook starts labelling state-controlled media

NEW DELHI: As promised, Facebook has started labelling media outlets and publishers that are wholly or partially under the editorial control of governments of the country they belong to, the social media company announced in a blog post.

Facebook believes this is important and will boost transparency as many media organisations around the world have heavy government influence.

Labelling of free new content will go live starting today, while labels for paid content by state controlled media will start showing later this year.

The labels can be seen in all countries in Facebook's Ad Library Page view, on Pages, and in the Page Transparency section. In the US, the label can be seen on posts in News Feed over the course of the next week.

To develop a criteria to identify media organisations that are under government influence, Facebook consulted over 65 global experts from media, governance, and human rights.

"We know that governments continue to use funding mechanisms to control media, but this alone doesn’t tell the full story. That’s why our definition of state-controlled media extends beyond just assessing financial control or ownership and includes an assessment of editorial control exerted by a government," Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, said in the blog post.

To assess the level of state influence, Facebook will look into an organisation's mission statement, information on owners, stakeholders, board members, management, government appointees in leadership positions, and disclosure of direct or indirect ownership by entities or individuals holding elected office.

Editorial guidelines such as transparency around sources of content and independence and diversity of sources will also be factored in during the assessment.

Facebook will also look into their sources of funding and the correctional policies or procedure followed by them for complaints.

Organisations that can show a statute in their parent country that clearly protects their editorial independence and those which have been audited by an independent and credible, external organisation and cleared of any state influence will be excluded from labelling.

Among media outlets that are more likely to be labelled will be those based in China and Russia as they are more likely to be influenced by their governments.

Organisations like BBC, which though fall under government's purview enjoy editoral independence, are less likely to be labelled.

Facebook had received a lot of backlash from outside and within the company after they refused to take action on some of the controversial comments made by US resident Donald Trump following the growing violence and protests in the country against police brutality.

The social media company also announced that soon they will start blocking ads from such media outlets in the US to minimise any foreign influence in the public debate prior to the 2020 US elections, slated for November.

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