Facebook will begin labeling ads, pages and posts from media outlets “wholly or partially” under the editorial control of their government, the company said Thursday as it faces pressure to take measures to prevent foreign influence in the upcoming U.S. elections.
The news outlets that will be labeled include China’s official Xinhua news agency and state broadcaster CCTV and Russian sources like Sputnik and RT, according to CNBC. Outlets that believe they have been wrongly labeled may submit an appeal.
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“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’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a company blog post.
The platform won’t begin labeling ads from such publications until later this summer, he said. The decision to do so has been made “out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate” ahead of the November elections.
Social media rival Twitter outright banned ads from RT and Sputnik three years ago in fall of 2017.
Facebook’s move comes at a time when the company is facing criticism for choosing not to moderate a post in which President Donald Trump responded to ongoing anti-police brutality protests by saying, “when the looting starts, the shootings starts,” an apparent reference to segregationist police rhetoric from the civil rights era.
Twitter placed a warning label on the same post that users have to dismiss before viewing the comment. The platform said it violated its rules against” “glorifying violence.”
In leaked audio of a meeting in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue, he said he had concluded that Trump’s comment had “no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands.”
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