Which came first: public scrutiny of misinformation on social media sites or companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google investing in fact-checking? The answer may not surprise you.
It was something to think about while listening to a webinar on Tuesday called “Fighting fake news as a business model,” which promised “success stories from major press agencies and technology perspectives.” While the webinar centered on Europe (it was sponsored by the European Alliance of News Agencies and photo industry organization CEPIC), the lessons apply to the U.S. too: The reality on the ground, the panelists acknowledged, is that it’s basically only Big Tech — Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok, etc. — that is willing to shell out for their services. Facebook alone works with 80 different fact-checking organizations worldwide, up from 52 in 2019. (Not that it’s solved their misinformation problems.) For even the most successful and established fact-checking operations within news organizations, fighting misinformation is not currently a profitable business.