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Facebook will now label ‘state-controlled’ media and posts

While reading posts on Facebook, it is important to know the sources behind some posts. To know which media outlet is behind a certain post, and whether that certain post could have any government influence. At times due to constrained relations, countries wish to limit foreign state influencers and restrict any dubious news that may circulate inside their country’s borders. Rightfully so, users also have the right to know who the content they are reading, belongs to, and whether what they read is credible enough.   

The users must know how targeted Facebook posts can affect their views and opinions.

Facebook now attempts to label all state-controlled media posts to provide source information to its users. They announced this policy in 2019, under which all media groups that are state-controlled, even partially, will be banned from the US. Such media outlets will also not be allowed to use Facebook as an online advertising platform, and their existing advertisements will be banned. The labels will appear in the Ad Library Page view, on Pages, and in the Page Transparency section for all global users. In the US, the labels will also start to appear on posts in News Feed.

Facebook has laid down an extensive criterion to determine whether a media outlet is state-run.

Facebook will take into account the outlet’s mission statement, whether its owners or leaders are government officials, its editorial mechanics, funding sources, accountability mechanisms and press freedom. Any outlets termed by Facebook as ‘state controlled’ or banned, can apply to Facebook for an appeal, where they will have to prove their credibility and independence as outlets. Facebook will hold the final right to remove its ban on such media outlets.

Chinese state-controlled news page, China Xinhua News
Chinese state-controlled news page, China Xinhua News

One reason to ban state-controlled posts in the US could probably be to prevent any foreign influence or subtle media campaigns ahead of 2020 US Presidential elections. Facebook, as one of the biggest online influencer, is probably trying to play its part in keeping the elections fair. Facebook is not banning media outlets all over the world as state-controlled channels are the only source of authentic information in certain countries. By labeling posts, videos and advertisements, Facebook allows its users to know where the news they read or see is coming from. Russia Today, Sputnik and Xinhua are the first few names which have already been labeled by Facebook in the US.

Russian state-controlled news page, Late Breaking News Now

This can be considered as a precautionary measure taken on Facebook’s end and to keep media outlets on their toes. Stricter regulations and checks have been placed specifically in the US because, in the past as well, Facebook has been allegedly blamed of unfair biasness especially during US elections. However, Facebook has always been an advocate of freedom of speech and expression, therefore Facebook cannot every time be held accountable for what people or media outlets post.

Given that state-controlled media outlets and channels abide by the laws set by their hosts, Facebook may go easy on them, and they can avoid being banned or blacklisted.

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