Facebook tags government media organizations as âstate-controlled mediaâ
Photo shows a Facebook page labeling PTV as ‘state-controlled media.’

Facebook tags government media organizations as ‘state-controlled media’

Janvic Mateo, Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Government media organizations are being labeled as “state-controlled media” on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Started in the United States last year, the social media company recently rolled out the policy in other countries, including the Philippines.

The Facebook pages of Philippine government organizations such as PTV, IBC TV 13, Radyo Pilipinas, Philippine News Agency and Radio Television Malacañang now have the label “Philippines state-controlled media” in their posts.

“Facebook has designated this (gov’t) publisher because it believes that it may be partially or wholly under the editorial control of a state,” read the information about the labels.

The policy only covers those identified as media organizations, with other information offices such as the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Philippine Information Agency not getting similar labels.

The policy was introduced in the United States ahead of the 2020 elections, with many media organizations in other countries getting the same labels over the past months.

In an earlier statement, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said they decided to provide greater transparency into these publishers as “they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state.”

“We believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government,” Gleicher said.

Upon consultation with various experts, he said they developed a policy criteria to determine whether a publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of government.

Factors that they consider include the organization’s mission statement, mandate and public reporting, ownership structure, editorial guidelines, newsroom leadership and staff,  source of funding and governance and accountability mechanisms.

“If we determine that there are enough protections in place to ensure editorial independence, we will not apply the label,” said Facebook officials.

Publishers looking to prove their independence must be able to demonstrate at least a policy in the country that clearly protects the editorial independence of the organization, established procedures, processes and protections at the media organization to ensure editorial independence and an assessment by an independent, credible and external organization finding that these policy and procedures have been complied with.

In April, Facebook also piloted a new feature that labels satire and fan pages, as well as those owned by public officials.

The new feature, which aims to give users context about the pages they see on their feed, is being tested among those based in the United States.

“We’ll gradually start applying labels including ‘public official,’ ‘fan page’ or ‘satire page’ to posts in news feed, so people can better understand who they’re coming from,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang assured the public yesterday that government-controlled media, labeled recently by the Facebook as such, would not waiver in the promotion of freedom of the press as integral part of the country’s democracy.

PCOO chief Secretary Martin Andanar does not see any concern over FB’s move to label state media, which the social media network has been enforcing globally.

“This matter should not be a source of contention in the first place, as we continue to uphold and promote media freedom and freedom of speech as an integral part of our democratic system,” Andanar said, adding PTV-4 is a government-owned and controlled corporation mandated to support all initiatives, programs and projects of the state regardless of administration.

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