The Indian state of Karnataka will be heading for polls in May. Ahead of the elections, Facebook has announced a third-party fact-checking programme in the state to fight the spread of fake news on the social media platform that might affect the results of polls. The social media giant on Tuesday partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative, for a pilot programme that will first roll out in the southern state.
Karnataka goes to election on May 12, and the counting of votes will take place on May 15.
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"Starting today, BOOM, certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, non-partisan international fact checking network at Poynter, will be able to review English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy," Facebook said in a blog post.
Facebook has 217 million monthly active users in India.
"We are beginning small and know it is important to learn from this test and listen to our community as we continue to update ways for people to understand what might be false news in their News Feed," it added.
Once a story is rated as false, Facebook has learned to reduce its distribution by 80 per cent.
"When a fact-checker rates a story as false, we will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution. This, in turn, stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it," Facebook said.
Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise removed. If the third-party fact-checkers write articles debunking a false news story, Facebook will show it in "Related Articles" immediately below the story in News Feed.
"We'll also send people and Page Admins notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that's been determined to be false," Facebook noted.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it is important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections, including in India.
"Our goals are to understand Facebook's impact on upcoming elections -- like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms -- and to inform our future product and policy decisions," he said while testifying before the US Congress last week.
"The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world," he told a panel of 44 Senators.
Zuckerberg said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere.