Snopes Media Group Inc., one of Facebook Inc.’s first fact-checking partners, said it’s ending the relationship after two years, even though the decision may cause financial distress.
“We want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff,” the company said.
Snopes’ contract with Facebook was worth $100,000 in 2017, but was far more valuable than that for Facebook, which frequently touted its fact-checking partners as helping combat the fake news problem on its site. Snopes said it hasn’t ruled out working with Facebook, or any other platforms, in the future.
Facebook has been working since the 2016 U.S. election to rein in misinformation across its platform, though its results have been spotty. External fact-checking partners have criticized Facebook’s attempts as only scratching the surface of false content on the social network.
The fact-checking efforts are often understaffed and have only recently begun to address the explosion of misleading photo and video content. Repeat offenders have also found workarounds. One site that was frequently flagged by fact-checkers simply changed the name of its site, Poynter reported this week.
“We value the work that Snopes has done, and respect their decision as an independent business,” Facebook said, noting that it has 34 other fact-checking partners.
Fact-checking initiatives may not be as important for the site’s misinformation problems as other technological improvements, like detecting fake accounts trying to spread the content, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former head of security, said on Twitter.
“The fact checking partnerships were always PR, because it’s the kind of well-understood, visible intervention that journalists can see and cover,” Stamos tweeted. “The really effective product changes are often invisible.”