Updated: Fact-checkers end work with Facebook

Another update: 5:03pm PT: The Associated Press has also decided not to renew its contract. Wuh-oh.

Statement: “AP is not currently doing fact-checking work for Facebook. AP constantly evaluates how to best deploy its fact-checking resources, and that includes ongoing conversations with Facebook about opportunities to do important fact-checking work on its platform.”

Update, 12:44pm PT: Read my report on this @ BBC News

Fact checking service Snopes has said today it was ending its partnership with Facebook. In a statement, this paragraph stands out. So much potentially between the lines here:

At this time we are evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff.

Was it too expensive because of the workload? Was it having any effect?

Facebook’s statement:

We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business. Fighting misinformation takes a multi-pronged approach from across the industry. We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort. We have strong relationships with 34 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 16 languages, and we plan to expand the program this year by adding new partners and languages.

According to Snopes’ financial disclosures, Facebook paid them $100,000 for their work in 2017 (after a brief period doing it for nothing). Snopes hasn’t yet put out its financials for 2018. One can predict they got more money, but it will be telling to find out how much.

Even in 2017, $100,000 for this work seems low – that’s less than the average salary for one member of Facebook’s staff.

I’m reminded of this piece in the Guardian at the end of last year:

Journalists working as factcheckers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership with the social network, saying the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.

Current and former Facebook factcheckers told the Guardian that the tech platform’s collaboration with outside reporters has produced minimal results and that they’ve lost trust in Facebook, which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work. Some said Facebook’s hiring of a PR firm that used an antisemitic narrative to discredit critics – fueling the same kind of propaganda factcheckers regularly debunk – should be a deal-breaker.