Since the 2016 US Presidential election, Facebook has faced numerous accusations of helping spread misinformation and ‘fake news’. In December 2016 they announced their plans to address hoaxes and fake news, and one part of that strategy involved using third-party fact-checking organizations to help them combat the spread of dodgy claims and shady articles. One such organization was Snopes, which has now said in a statement that it is ending its partnership with Facebook.
Citing concerns around costs, David Mikkelson, founder of the site, said that Snopes wants to ‘determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication and staff.’
Reporting on the news, Poynter, who run PolitiFact and the International Fact-Checking Network, said that one major concern was that the process was overly laborious as ‘fact-checkers have to manually enter each false report they flag into a dashboard’ rather than being able to simply mark posts or report whole websites.
Users of Facebook will still see the occasional notice of ‘Disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers’ when sharing an article, as Snopes’ departure doesn’t affect the rest of the program. Indeed, Snopes even said they “have not ruled out working with Facebook or any other platform in the future”, which could mean they re-join the partnership when time and money constraints are less of an issue.
While the news will be a minor blow to Facebook and its campaign to regain public trust, Snopes’ departure is unlikely to have much of an impact. In spite of more major controversies like the Cambridge Analytica debacle last year, earlier this week we reported that Facebook’s profit for Q4 2018 was a record $6.9 billion.