Summits Yellow

Snapchat's in-house team of journalists are fact-checking content

Tim Maytom

As more and more citizen reportage happens over social media, the opportunity for 'fake news' to slip through and misrepresent events or even fabricate entire stories is growing. As many digital firms turn to tech-based solutions, Snap has instead opted for an in-houses team of journalists and fact-checkers to review uploaded content that concerns major news stories.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World at One programme, Nick Bell, vice president of content at Snap, discussed how the platform not only provided mainstream media outlets with a new channel to reach young consumers, but also served to gather user-generated content from events like the recent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"We have a news team - we have journalists who work at Snapchat, who are looking at content that comes in and are evaluationg it, are determining whether it is accurate, whether it is relevant and how we can add additional context.

"So if you look at some of the events in Charlottesville, for example, in recent weeks, we actually received Snaps from members of our community of the driver being arrested. Before we published these Snaps, we actually verified with the police to make sure that it was accurate, that the snaps that we were posting to our 173m daily active users were of what we thought they were. And we added a layer of context adove that as well to describe what had happened, who this person was."

The approach is considerably different to rival social network Facebook, which disbanded its editorial curation team last year in favour of an algorigthm-driven system after accusations of political bias. The social network now relies on machine learning, as well as external services, to fight back against the tide of 'fake news'.

While Snapchat's audience is significantly smaller than Facebook's, it is growing faster, and recent figures from eMarketer suggest that young people in particular are using Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook.

"We think that actually putting journalists into the fold is very, very important, and one of the things that we think we're really lucky to have is 173m people every single day who are sharing what they see in the world around them, and we can package these up into really powerful stories," said Bell.

"The shows and the content that we program on Snapchat is highly curated. We love the concept of actually taking people on a journey, having very credible perspectives who guide you through the topics of the day."