Facebook, Twitter join news orgs in fight vs fake news

MANILA, Philippines – The fight against misinformation online just got the backing of some of the Internet's biggest names.

Social media giants Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have joined forces with some of the biggest media groups in the world in the First Draft partner network, a collaboration hoping to tackle the Internet's biggest problem: the unabated spread of misinformation.

In a post Tuesday, September 13, First Draft said that it is bringing together these groups "to work on ideas and initiatives, including a train-the-trainer programme, the launch of a collaborative verification platform, and the creation of a voluntary code of practice."

Among the 30 groups currently part of the initiative are some of the world's biggest names in news: The New York Times, CNN, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, Eurovision, and The Washington Post.

"This network will also create a feedback loop for representatives from each social media platform to connect with journalists and develop ideas for ways to streamline the verification process, improve the experience of eyewitnesses and increase news literacy amongst social media users," First Draft said in its post.

The initiative couldn't have come at a better time; social media companies are criticized for not doing enough to curb misinformed, and now increasingly hateful, discourse.

The First Draft initiative also comes after several controversial blunders by these companies, notably Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook, the world's largest social media site, recently faced backlash over its decision to take down – then restore – a historically-significant Vietnam War-era photo due to "nudity." It also drew flak for dismissing editors who were in charge of its "Trending" feature – which then backfired after several fake news items trended. (Read: To curb hoaxes, Facebook must accept it's a media company)

Twitter, on the other hand, has been called out for not doing enough to fight hate speech, most notably after American actress Leslie Jones was forced to quit the social network after a barrage of hate tweets directed at her.

"We are not going to solve these problems overnight, but we’re certainly not going to solve them as individual organizations," First Draft added.

First Draft was initially formed by 9 media organizations in June 2015, backed by Google News Lab, the group said. It has been doing work on "seeking solutions through dedicated research and collaboration and providing guidance and training for our industry peers in newsrooms around the world." – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: Rappler is one of the Philippine newsgroups which joined the First Draft Partners Network.