Home » How Meta (didn’t) expand fact-checking on Slovak Facebook | Company | .a week

How Meta (didn’t) expand fact-checking on Slovak Facebook | Company | .a week

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How Meta (didn’t) expand fact-checking on Slovak Facebook |  Company |  .a week

meta is now officially cooperating with the Slovak project Demagog.sk. Looks like good news. And basically she is. Just not as good as many think. Why?

we have deviated from the status quo

All right. The French news agency AFP has been verifying messages on Slovakian Facebook and Instagram for Meta for years. However, for a long time it was an undersized effort – AFP had only one journalist in our country, Robert Barca (although he set the bar of Slovak fact-checking quite high with his work).

During the summer election campaign, conditions finally improved significantly – late, but nevertheless. AFP on its own initiative (Meta cannot be credited here) hired another journalist, Matúš Krčmárik from SME.

Expanding the program beyond the AFP, however, has been a problem. Meta has been complaining for a long time that we do not have certified fact-checking organizations in Slovakia. Meta only cooperates with organizations that have IFCN (International Fact-Checking Network) certification, guaranteeing a high level of standard.

Therefore, an idea was born. The Czech branch of the Demagog project has this certification. And Meta agreed to take over the auspices of fact-checking in Slovakia and thus offer a way for people from the Demagog.sk team to be involved in news verification in Slovakia.

And although Meta should be praised for approving such a “handle”, again it was not an initiative or an idea from her head. But maybe another time…

Shortly before the September elections, the news on Slovak Facebook and Instagram was verified by a couple from AFP and a trio of Slovaks who joined the seven-member Demagog.cz team.

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However, this is no longer the case.

a change that changes nothing

The report on the expansion of Mety’s fact-checking program by Demagog.sk (IFCN certification was obtained in the summer of last year) gives the impression that more people will be verifying news (from March, when this cooperation officially begins) than before, respectively. that the number of hoaxes and disinformation that Meta’s contracted message verifiers will refute will increase. Unfortunately, the reality is a little different.

One of the bad news – although perhaps only for a short time – is that the aforementioned Matúš Krčmárik left AFP a few weeks ago. He decided to change his profession. AFP has only one Slovak journalist again, but hopefully that will change soon and Rob Barco will have a new colleague.

A much more specific situation arose when it comes to Demagog projects. In practice, only Slovak people officially moved under their own Demagog.sk banner – in principle, therefore, nothing significant has changed. It can be said that it is just a bit of bureaucracy. The expansion of the program took place “only on paper”.

joker in reserve

But that’s not entirely true either. Well, step by step, let’s sum it up: there is currently only one fact-checker working in the AFP. At the moment, Demagog.cz does not plan to actively verify messages on the Slovak Facebook, and the capacities of Demagog.sk are equal to the sum of roughly two full-time people (in reality, there are more part-time people). So far, Demagog.sk has debunked approximately 6 to 8 reports per month and currently plans to continue with this quantity, Demagog.sk project manager Veronika Hincová Frankovská confirmed to us.

Anyway, the Czech branch of Demagogov is still officially a partner of Meta for the Slovak market, and even if it will no longer focus on the Slovak market, this situation also has its advantages.

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“We will take care of it (verification of content in Slovakia, editor’s note) ourselves only when they (Demagog.sk, editor’s note) do not have the capacity for it and when we are able to help,” the Demagog coordinator told us. cz Petr Gongala.

According to Gongal, “maximum capacity” is important, e.g. in specific situations: “When, for example, there are elections and a lot of false content is spread, we will also be ready to help our Slovak colleagues and deploy, say, three people (part-time).”

This is a very important advantage. In addition, due to the similarity of the Czech and Slovak markets, and therefore similar delusions that appear on our social networks, Demagogues will coordinate to avoid duplication. Topics shared in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic can thus be shared with each other and work more efficiently in time.

“Cooperation with Meta directly means a big step for us in terms of long-term sustainability, even in the verification of disinf on social networks, as well as the statements of politicians (outside of the Meta program, editor’s note), so we would like to increase our capacities in the future,” adds the positives of the new partnership Hincová Frankovská for the Slovak side.

the shortcomings of the Goals program persist

An interesting feedback from Czech and Slovak fact-checkers is that they are rather limited by “the number of verifiable things that are currently spreading” and their monitoring.

In order to refute misinformation or a hoax, you must first capture it in the information space. For these purposes, Meta provides specialized tools to message verifiers.

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Veronika Hincová Frankovská also reminds that many disinformation narratives occur rather in the form of opinions, questions or contributions that cannot be fact-checked.

I have been pointing out another of the mentioned problems for years – that Meta does not allow fact-checking of any disinformation, that is, regarding its author. The exception in this regard is for politicians, who within the Meta philosophy can spread whatever they want, as long as they wrote it. News verifiers can intervene only in the rarest of cases, when a politician shares a hoax published by another person.

This, of course, is not enough. At least not in Slovakia, where disinformation has become mandatory equipment for the majority of elected deputies. However, there is no light at the end of the tunnel to suggest that this nonsense will change anytime soon.

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