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Facebook has increased its efforts to fact-check photos and videos and is leveraging new technology and partnerships to tackle different types of misinformation in faster manner.

Facebook Product Manager, Antonio Woodford, wrote in a blog, “We know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook, so for the last two years, we've made fighting misinformation a priority. One of the many steps we take to reduce the spread of false news is working with independent, third-party fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of content. To date, most of our fact-checking partners have focused on reviewing articles.”

It is expanding fact-checking for photos and videos to all of the 27 partners in 17 countries around the world (and are regularly on-boarding new fact-checking partners). This will identify and take action against more types of misinformation, faster.

How does this work?

Facebook has built a machine-learning model that uses various engagement signals, including feedback from people on Facebook, to identify potentially false content. It then sends those photos and videos to fact- checkers for their review, or fact-checkers can surf content on their own. Many of the third-party fact-checking partners have expertise in evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analysing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken. Fact-checkers are able to assess the truth or falsity of a photo or video by combining these skills with other journalistic practices such as using research from experts, academics or government agencies.

Facebook is also leveraging other technologies to better recognise false or misleading content. For example, using optical character recognition (OCR) to extract text from photos and compare that text to headlines from fact-checkers’ articles. It is also working on new ways to detect if a photo or video has been manipulated. These technologies will help identify more potentially deceptive photos and videos to send to fact-checkers for manual review.

How does Facebook categorise false photos and videos?

Based on several months of research and testing with a handful of partners since March, Facebook has categorised misinformation in photos and videos into three categories: (1) Manipulated or fabricated, (2) Out of context, and (3) Text or audio claim. These are the kinds of false photos and videos that are seen on Facebook.

What's different about photos and videos?

Woodford said, “People share millions of photos and videos on Facebook every day. We know that this kind of sharing is particularly compelling because it's visual. That said it also creates an easy opportunity for manipulation by bad actors. Based on research with people around the world, we know that false news spreads in many different forms, varying from country to country.”

Stating an example in the blog, Woodford said that in the US, people say they see more misinformation in articles, whereas in Indonesia, people say they see more misleading photos. However, these categories are not distinct. The same hoax can travel across different content types, so it's important to build defences against misinformation across articles as well as photos and videos.