Facebook looks to partner with right-wing outlet to fact check stories

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Facebook helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency with fake Russian accounts and ads from the country that were pro-Trump, undermined the Clinton campaign, stoked arguments about social issues, and shared fake news stories.

The platform also embedded Republican employees with the Trump campaign to assist with ad technology, according to a new 60 Minutes interview with the campaign’s digital media director.

Facebook’s response? Hire a right-wing outlet to fact check news stories.

According to a new report from Quartz, Facebook plans to sign conservative magazine Weekly Standard as a fact checking partner. Several outlets currently work as fact checkers for the platform, though all the outlets Facebook has signed thus far have been approved by the Poynter Institute.

Poynter does not include any right-wing news outlets on its list of media that follow its code of principles, but according to one person briefed on Facebook’s plan to strike a deal with Weekly Standard, the partnership is part of Facebook’s attempts to to “appease all sides.”

In the past, right-wing news outlets and commentators criticized Facebook for choosing what they saw as “liberal” outlets as fact-checking partners, though most of the partners, including Snopes, ABC News, Politifact and FactCheck.org, are non-partisan outlets.

The Weekly Standard has a history of publishing far-right talking points, including saying the Iraq war was a “war to be proud of” in 2005 and calling medical marijuana a “charade” in 2010.

The conservative magazine also has a history of denying the reality of climate change, and recently ran an article it called “Dadaist Science.”

“Look under the hood on climate change ‘science’ and what you see isn’t pretty,” Nathan Cofnas wrote for the magazine in July.

In 2009, ThinkProgress reported that the magazine misrepresented an MIT professor’s study estimating the costs of cap-and-trade. At the time, the professor told ThinkProgress’ Joe Romm that “the Weekly Standard reporter ‘feigned stupidity’ in an effort to elicit answers that could be taken out of context and misrepresented.”

In order for the Weekly Standard deal to go forward, Poynter would have to approve the Weekly Standard as following its code of principles, a process that could take several weeks.

In other Facebook news Saturday, Axios reports that Facebook will now require ads targeted to its users based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed before they go live. They did not offer details about circumstances under which ads based on politics, religion, ethnicity, or social issues would be denied.

As Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand noted, the move is particularly notable considering Facebook still does not know the extent of Russian ads purchased on the site because of its self-service ad buy tool.

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