If you can't confirm a story, should you run a story?
A publication does have a choice. Straightforward journalism procedures would add a note: whether a publisher following the initial news account could verify the news account.
But what if you are Facebook, which has been defined by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act as not being a publisher? This comes as it has been revealed that Facebook downgraded a news story about the 2020 election.
Concerning a tip from the FBI coming to Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Meta (owner of Facebook) has been reported as saying recently that the federal agency “thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election and... noticed that there's about to be some kind of dump similar to that.”
So Facebook reduced its distribution of the story while it did fact-checking. Facebook is getting grief for that while it has “third-party” authentication and continues to check out that content.
What would TV news channels do? Try to do the fact-checking beforehand.
Still, in a fast-moving news environment, it might run the story but with a strong addition, ending the news account with something like: “We could not by press time confirm the news of this account.”
And now, let's remind readers -- once again -- Facebook isn't technically a "publisher," even as many users and industry executives believe otherwise. Social media content has been in a whirlpool of a rabbit hole of a deep blue sea for some time. Although there still is a strong following for the likes of Facebook, users' skepticism is growing.
Facebook has been hit with lower business expectations due to continuing efforts to cut back on internet tracking of its users.
Apple has been a big disrupter here, coming from its new IOS update, giving people the choice to opt-out of apps tracking them across the web.
TV networks do not yet track any of their viewers that way. But expect more associated TV-network owned, digital media platforms to find ways to get closer with privacy-promised ‘identity graph’ services.
And what do advertisers want from all of this?
Transparency, of course. Not just with how their messaging is being consumed, but perhaps with deeper knowledge around how the news content they are backing is produced, distributed, and verified.