Avaaz alleges Facebook’s response to disinformation in Europe poses a serious threat to democratic stability; includes co. response

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26 March 2019

Yellow vests flooded by fake news: over 100M views of disinformation on Facebook

Author: Avaaz

Avaaz calls on Facebook to Correct the Record ahead of EU Elections -- with an in-depth study showing how fake news surrounding the Yellow Vests reached over 100 million views, and how Russia fueled the divide... According to its findings, fake news surrounding the French Yellow Vest movement has reached an estimated 105 million views on Facebook alone, in a country with just over 35 million Facebook monthly active users... Furthermore, the findings shine a light on the increased efforts from Russian state media, RT France, to fuel the protests... A second part of the report focused on YouTube...

Avaaz believes that the fake news surrounding the Yellow Vests has been especially impactful, because the vast majority of millions of French citizens exposed to it have never been informed if they have seen fake news, or seen factual corrections. Because even if content is fact-checked and found to be untrue, Facebook only shows what they call “related articles” to a very small percentage of the users who have actually seen the fake news... [T]he solution to this problem is simple: Platforms must themselves work with factcheckers to “Correct the Record” by distributing independent third party corrections to EVERY SINGLE person who saw the false information in the first place.

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Company response
25 March 2019

Response from Facebook

Author: Facebook

We share Avaaz’s concerns about the spread of misinformation on Facebook that may mislead people or harm the democratic process. That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps to reduce the distribution of false news and provide people with more context about the information they’re seeing. We’re working with independent, Poynter Institute-accredited fact checkers to identify false information, demote it in News Feed so fewer people see it, and to surface fact checks as Related Articles to those who do. And, through Article Context, we’re giving everyone more information on the sources of all articles shared on Facebook so they can make more informed judgements.
We’re continuing to explore ways to tackle this important challenge while also ensuring that we aren’t imposing undue restrictions on freedom of expression, and we welcome conversations, debate, and suggestions on the right approach like those in Avaaz’s report.

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Company response
25 March 2019

Response from Google

Author: Google

Please see here for a blog post we released last month detailing our work on misinformation across our platforms, along with a 30-page white paper on how Google fights disinformation.

Download the full document here