Factly, Facebook crack the whip on questionable content

Factly founder Rakesh Dubbudu (right) at a press conference on the challenges of fact-checking in Hyderabad on Friday.  

With the elections under way, it has been a busy season for Factly, now one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners. In this season, the sharing of unverified content tends to be more frenetic than usual.

Factly is one of the seven fact-checkers that Facebook has partnered within India, and does the verification exercise in Telugu and English.

The social media giant’s fact-checkers have to be accredited by Poynter Institutes’s International Fact Checking Network before they are taken on board.

Speaking to The Hindu, Factly founder Rakesh Dubbudu said they must have dealt with around 150 cases of questionable content floating online during the elections. “What we have seen is that most of the Telugu content is national content, but translated into Telugu. A major part of it is political content. During elections, we did see vote suppression content too. Two days before the elections, we saw a viral post: On the letterhead of YSRCP, there was a fake content saying that our (the party’s) symbol has changed. It had thousands of shares,” Mr. Dubbudu said. Another case was that of a viral post falsely claiming that there were ‘back door’ deliberations to secure the release of Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan after his capture by Pakistan. The post, Mr. Dubbudu said, went viral. And while no source was cited, the post ascribed it to an unnamed Swedish newspaper. Scouring Swedish newspapers and writing to authorities revealed that no such report exists. It takes a mix of right tools, advance searches on the Internet and, in some cases, reaching out to the authorities such as the police to fact-check the content being shared online.

Content is reviewed for accuracy and is rated as false, true, mixed, false headline, not eligible, satire, opinion, prank generator and not rated. Depending on the outcome, the post’s reach is limited. But with the rampant spread of disinformation, have fact-checkers brought about a change? Yes, said Mr. Dubbudu. On certain occasions, individuals have either apologised or deleted the content.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 3:58:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/factly-facebook-crack-the-whip-on-questionable-content/article27097938.ece

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