Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is following through with its vow of a few months ago, announcing it will begin labeling state-controlled media outlets that post on its platform.
In a blog post, the social media giant, which has faced backlash from employees for refusing to remove inflammatory posts from President Trump regarding the murder of George Floyd in police custody and the ensuing protests, said labels will begin appearing as of Wednesday.
Facebook isn't removing state-controlled news, but by labeling it, which Facebook says better equips users to understand who is behind the news. The company said it will also label ads from state-controlled media later this summer. "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," Facebook wrote.
The tech stock said it consulted with more than 65 experts around the globe that focus on media, governance, and human rights, to develop the criteria for receiving a label. Facebook will look beyond ownership structure to include mission statements, editorial guidelines, information about the newsroom and its staff, source of funding and revenue, and governance and accountability policies in place. "We know that governments continue to use funding mechanisms to control media, but this alone doesn't tell the full story. That's why our definition of state-controlled media extends beyond just assessing financial control or ownership and includes an assessment of editorial control exerted by a government," wrote Facebook.
Facebook's move comes as the U.S. heads into what is expected to be a polarizing election in November made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread unrest. The social media giant faced intense criticism for allowing fake news to proliferate on its platform during the run-up to the 2016 election and says it's working to prevent a repeat. The labels may be met with skepticism given it has long refused to remove political ads even if they are filled with lies.