These days many political parties create websites that pretend to be news outlets and authentic media resources. Especially before elections, these sites can be used to influence the voting as they can have an impact on the public and the election results can vary because of them.
Previously, these sites were allowed and included as a part of the news on Facebook, but now, the company has decided to stop treating such sites as independent media. As per the recent reports, JournalismProject explained that these sites will no longer be a part of the Facebook News. They will not receive any ‘news or media exemption’ for their ads and will have to stick to the same standard as all other political entities do on the platform. Not only this, but these sites will not have any access to news messaging on any of the Facebook-owned messaging services like Messenger and WhatsApp.
In a blog post, Facebook has said that it was imperative to limit the access granted to these sites as they are connected with different organizations and political entities, and can cause unexpected or untoward influence on the voting and election system by hampering with the public opinion. Also, these sites must have proper authorization and disclaimers for ads about various issues like elections, social issues, or general politics in the Ad Library.
Over 1200 such websites have been identified so far that were designed to look like local news outlets, but more than 90% of their stories were either repurposed stories from other outside links or were based on public data sets that were algorithmically generated.
These sites have been called ‘impostor sites’ too because analysts believe that all they do is to pretend to be authentic news organizations. What they lack are balanced coverage and unbiased opinions. This makes sense because they are specially designed to tip the favors and opinions of the public in one direction, towards one political group/party/entity, and ‘diss’ everyone else in the competition.
Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity Guy Rosen has said in a press release that as they prepare for the election, they are going to make sure that the platform does everything within its power to protect the integrity of those elections, and all that come in the future. For this reason, Facebook always works with partners that have an understanding of any new risks the platform takes and about the consequences of those risks. With the help of these partners, Facebook always tries to ensure that they are well prepared for any unlikely scenarios that may occur.
It was anyway high time for Facebook to take some step towards unbiased political reinforcements because the platform has always been accused of turning a blind eye towards such sensitive issues. So, now that it is taking a step in the right direction, it is much appreciated.