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Facebook adding labels to state-controlled media, including Russian, Chinese outlets

Audrey Conklin

Facebook is adding labels to state-controlled media, including Russian, Chinese and Iranian outlets, the tech giant announced Thursday.

The social media company announced the plan several months ago as one way to help protect elections and increase transparency on the site; today, that plan is being put into practice for pages representing news outlets that "combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state," the company said in a blog post.

Publishers included in the initial set include, but aren’t limited to: 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, a Facebook spokesperson told FOX Business.

The labels will begin to appear on Facebook's Ad Library Page view, Pages, and the Page Transparency section. The labels will also appear on ads starting later this summer and on posts in the News Feed section for U.S. users starting next week, the company said.

In an example of what labels will look like, Facebook provided a sample image of a made-up outlet called "Late Breaking News Now," which has a label beneath its name that reads, "Russian state-controlled media" on a sample Facebook post.

If a user were to click on "About This Page" to find out more about the outlet, a pop-up description would read, "Late Breaking News is now partially or wholly under the editorial control of a state."

If a user were to click on the "Page Transparency" section of a state-run outlet, a label would read, "This publisher is now partially or wholly under the editorial control of a state. This is determined by a range of factors, including but not limited to funding, structure and journalistic standards."

Facebook added that it consulted 65 global experts "specializing in media, governance, and human rights and development" to determine which outlets can accurately be considered state-run.

"We know that governments continue to use funding mechanisms to control media, but this alone doesn’t tell the full story," Facebook said in the blog post. "That’s why our definition of state-controlled media extends beyond just assessing financial control or ownership and includes an assessment of editorial control exerted by a government."

Determining factors include the outlet's mission statement, ownership and management, disclosure of ownership, editorial guidelines, information about the newsroom leadership and staff, sources of funding and revenue as well as governance and accountability mechanisms.

Companies have the opportunity to have a label removed by submitting an appeal if they agree to make specific changes Facebook requires.

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