Facebook starts labeling state-controlled media outlets

People should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy says.

 (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Facebook said June 4 it has started labeling media outlets that are under the influence of a government in an effort to provide greater transparency regarding the news on its network.   
The step comes amid efforts to fight increasing state-backed disinformation campaigns. 
Nathaniel Gleicher, the company's head of cybersecurity policy, said in a blog post that "We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government." 
The social network is reported to have initially applied the label to about 200 pages including Iran's Press TV, China's Xinhua News and Russia's Sputnik. 
In order to gain a better understanding of how governments exert editorial control over media entities, Facebook consulted with more than 65 experts in fields such as human rights, government and media, Gleischer said.  
Facebook's criteria for determining whether a publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a government include editorial guidelines, ownership structure, sources of funding, governance and accountability mechanisms, procedures to protect editorial independence, and country-specific factors such as press freedom, according to the senior executive. 
Gleischer said the company will also begin labeling ads from those publishers this year and start blocking ads from them in the US in order to provide an extra layer of protection against foreign influence on the public debate ahead of the presidential election in November. 
In the US, the label will start to appear on posts in News Feed over the next week. The labels are to appear globally in the Page Transparency section, in the Ad Library Page view, and on Pages. Outlets can appeal if they think the label has been applied incorrectly, Gleischer said.