To Facebook administrators:
In recent days, social media platform Facebook responded to German government officials, who declared that Facebook should be sanctioned for fake news and hate speech, that Facebook will undertake new measures, whereby if anyone finds any news reports questionable, they can report the post as “fake news”, and the article in question would be handed over to Correctiv, a non-profit investigative journalism organisation, for examination. If found to be fake, the article would be flagged as “questionable”, upon which Facebook will downgrade that news report’s priority order, limiting its reach by decreasing the frequency of it appearing on newsfeeds as a way of response to control the fake news epidemic. As an officially registered media organisation, Passion Times welcomes this.
However, Facebook’s effort to curb fake news, in putting an end to the spread of fake reports, is a cause for concern on the outset. On the web there are numerous platforms, commonly referred to as “content farm”, that often use inflammatory headlines to spread false information; and in the Chinese-speaking section of the interweb, Buzzhand is one of the major “content farm” which would spread false news and information online, and yet they received authentication from Facebook. This situation is a cause for wonder. Facebook’s certification, commonly known as “the blue tick”, is an accreditation system for indicating that a page and/or a person is indeed authentic, guaranteeing that the organisation, company, person and such identity would not be stolen or impersonated to spread false information, or profiting from fraud, which may lead to the related organisation, company, person or the public at large suffering from loss of money or damage in reputation. Buzzhand, which often releases “content farm” material, would receive Facebook’s verification is something that inevitably leads one to question their resolution in striking back at the dissemination of false news, whether or not Facebook identifies with these sources of false information, or supports these platforms in continuing to exist and spreading false information, by verifying Buzzhand.
Concurrently, Facebook’s authenticating system seems to neglect certified media organisations that are doing their best in providing truthful, vigorously verified information, by refusing to grant them verification, approving platforms that spread false news instead. This is disappointing to those in the media industry. As an officially registered press agency, Passion Times had operated with all seriousness, producing its own programmes on a daily basis, with different writers supplying their original articles, as well as our editorial team earnestly reporting news, delivering all sorts of rigorously verified information. Passion Times had also applied for Facebook’s “blue tick” authentication in accordance with procedure more than 20 times, and yet to this day have not received the needed authentication.
On the other hand, a host of other similar online media such as Stand News, which had more than 180,000 likes; or HK01, which had 210,000 likes, all received the “blue tick” verification, all except Passion Times which has more audience, more reach and coverage, with close to 420,000 likes, still waiting for its “blue tick” verification. For Passion Times, a media body that had painstakingly operated for years, it begs the question whether or not there is a flaw in Facebook’s authentication system; secondly, with Facebook still not forthcoming with authentication approval, it would mean that Passion Times is in danger of not being able to operate normally at any time, should any pro-government individuals, or those holding opposing political views, launch an assault by abusing the reporting system, in retaliation against our political stance. There had been a similar situation, whereby a site and Facebook page impersonated Passion Times, affecting this company and its viewers. The aim of Passion Timeshaving authentication from Facebook is for Facebook users to be able to determine the impersonators, as well as maintaining the flow of truthful information.
If Facebook sits back and does nothing, should Passion Times suffer from assaults due to our political standpoint, by pro-government individuals, or those with different political positions who would abuse the reporting system, inevitably it begs the question whether or not Facebook, as a social media platform, has a political predisposition in terms of openness and fairness. Passion Times believes that Facebook, as a social media platform, would have an in-depth understanding that a media platform’s transparency and fairness has close ties with the users’ trust and continual patronage, for users hope to disseminate and receive information upon a credible, transparent and fair platform. Should a social media platform unable to maintain its credibility, transparency and fairness, its future development is a cause for concern.
Passion Times hopes that Facebook can directly address the “content farm” issue, as well as platforms such as Buzzhand, which often disseminates “content farm” type of falsified information, damaging the flow of information. Passion Times believes that Facebook understands, that a new media organisation’s information broadcast and the dissemination of information through social media platforms have an intimate, symbiotic relationship; media organisations through releasing different types of truthful information via a credible, open and fair social media platform can bring about mutually beneficial symbiosis. Passion Timeswishes that Facebook could provide a fair treatment in regards to the verification system for media platforms, demonstrating their resolution and ability to strike at “content farm”, ensuring the truthful nature of information online, as well as maintaining the positive development in the relationship between media outlets and social media platforms. Passion Times once had an impersonator with their own website and Facebook page, having the authentication would help Facebook users distinguish the original and the fakes, this is the aim of us having said verification. If Facebook chooses to ignore Passion Times’ application, it would damage Facebook’s corporate image. Facebook should directly address the above issues with haste, giving peace of mind to media platform and Facebook users.
26 January, 2017
Original Text in Chinese 中文原文: