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Facebook advertises for ‘fake news’ fact checkers

Alex Hern // 12th June 2018
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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook advertises for ‘fake news’ fact checkers” was written by Alex Hern, for The Guardian on Friday 8th June 2018 10.44 UTC

Facebook has advertised for “news credibility specialists” to fact-check content that appears on its site, after accusations of bias and the ongoing controversy over fake news.

Almost two years after the company fired its “trending” news team and replaced it with algorithms in an attempt to fight accusations of anti-conservative editing, it posted the job listings on Thursday.

The adverts said Facebook was looking to hire “individuals with a passion for journalism, who believe in Facebook’s mission of making the world more connected”.

“As a member of the team, you’ll be tasked with developing a deep expertise in Facebook’s News Credibility Program,” applicants were told. “You’ll be conducting investigations against predefined policies.”

After initial media reports about the adverts, Facebook took them down briefly before reposting them with minor tweaks. The job title is now given as “news publisher specialist”, and all references to the company’s news credibility programme have been removed except for the URL, which remains the same. Also gone is the requirement for a “passion for journalism”.

The two jobs advertised would be based at Facebook’s head office, and one requires fluency in Spanish. Work would involve, among other duties, creating lists of credible news organisations used across the site. i

The job adverts take Facebook’s attempts to manage news on its platform full circle. At the beginning of 2016, the company’s “trending” module was pulled together by editors, who merged its internal data on what was being shared with stories published on a variety of mainstream media sources.

In an effort to cut down on hoaxes, Facebook reportedly required editors to check respectable news organisations before pushing a story to the trending section, a move that prompted complaints of leftwing bias from US conservatives, who complained that the list included sites such as the New York Times and CNN but not Breitbart or the Washington Examiner.

In August 2016, the Guardian broke the news that Facebook had responded to the attacks by firing all of the human editors and replacing them with an algorithm. The trending module became home to hoax stories within days, marking the beginning of Facebook’s troubles with “fake news” that would come to define the US election and aftermath.

Last week, Facebookannounced the closure of the trending section altogether. The company is now seeking a new approach to its platform, de-prioritising news in favour of stories from friends and family, while more aggressively seeking to support news from “trusted” outlets and working out ways to directly suppress the spread of hoaxes and fakes.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian: “We’re working on how we more effectively identify and differentiate news and news sources across our platform. For instance, we recently announced the Archive of Ads with Political Content, where we’ll build separate treatments for both news and non-news content.”

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