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Stuff Facebook counterfeit raises fake news concerns

Stuff.co.nz editor-in-chief Patrick Crewdson has criticised Facebook’s “woeful” response to fake news after an imitation Stuff page containing malicious content was left on the site for more than 37 hours.

Despite initially reporting the page through the official mechanisms on the platform at 8:30pm Sunday NZT, the page remained active until 10am Tuesday NZT.

Mr Crewdson said the experience made him question whether the social media giant was truly committed to tackling fake news.

“We were pretty disillusioned with how difficult it was to get the machine moving,” he told NewsMediaWorks. “We expected much faster action.”

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The page also was reported to Stuff’s Sydney-based account manager but, due to the Queen’s Birthday public holiday on Monday, Facebook Support was closed and did not respond until it reopened on Tuesday.

The reporting mechanisms on the platform were described by Mr Crewdson as “laughably weak”, with the four options to report a breach of intellectual property encouraging the victim to not engage with the infringing page.

Facebook refused to comment on the incident when approached by NewsMediaWorks, instead providing a generic response that reiterated that “reports are reviewed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the vast majority of reports are reviewed within 24 hours” with a link to the platform’s support page.

Mr Crewdson confirmed that the company received no response through the traditional reporting function .The only response Stuff received from the platform during the 37½ hours the page was active was from admin of Facebook’s news, media and publishing group, which confirmed they had logged the request to remove the page, saying “Hopefully it works!”.

Facebook’s product manager Tessa Lyons said in a statement in May 2018 that the company’s strategy to stop fake news worked in three parts: through the removal of accounts and content that violated the platform’s Community Standards or ad policies;

reducing the distribution of inauthentic content like clickbait; and to inform users with greater context.

Stuff was first made aware of the fake page by readers. The imitation mirrored the Stuff.co.nz Facebook page, using the platform to post sexually explicit content in an effort believed to discredit the news brand.

Stuff.co.nz, owned by Fairfax Media, reaches 2 million New Zealanders each month, making it the country’s largest publisher

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