Facebook starts labelling state-controlled media outlet pages

Facebook has said it will begin labelling state-run media pages in its latest effort to improve transparency across the platform.

At least 18 news outlets, including Russia’s RT and China’s government-owned People’s Daily, will be subject to the new measure in a bid to “help people better understand who’s behind the news they see” on the social network, said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy.

“We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organisation with the strategic backing of a state,” he explained.

The tech giant considers a number of factors that indicate editorial control by a government, such as the ownership structure, funding, accountability mechanisms and editorial guidelines.

Facebook's new labels for state-run news pages
Russia’s RT and China’s government-owned People’s Daily are among the first 18 publishers that will be labelled as state-run (Facebook/PA)

In the lead up to the presidential election, the US will get additional protections, blocking state-controlled media outlets from advertising to users in the country later this summer.

The initial list of confirmed publishers that fall under Facebook’s new labelling policy include: Press TV, Tasnim News Agency, Algerie Presse Service, Journal ech-chaab, Russia Today, Sputnik, RIA Novosti, CCTV, Xinhua News, People’s Daily, 2M.ma, Al Aoula (Morocco), Agence Tunis Afrique Presse, La Presse (Tunisia), DPRK Today, TV 5 Thailand, Philippine News Agency and People’s Television Network.

It comes at a tense time for Facebook, with employees past and present openly expressing discontent over chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up posts by Donald Trump that suggested protesters in the US could be shot.

Rival Twitter opted to demote a tweet about the protests that read, in part, that “when the looting starts the shooting starts”, as well as placing a warning on it.

Meanwhile, Facebook has let it remain on its platform, with Mr Zuckerberg laying out his reasoning in a Facebook post on Friday.

“I know many people are upset that we’ve left the President’s posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” he wrote.

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