Facebook fact-checkers are just opinion checkers – Manila Bulletin


Stossel vs. Facebook

In a world where social networks are already part of our daily lives, two things exist: disinformation and disinformation. False, inaccurate or misleading information is disinformation, while anything that is deliberately misleading is considered disinformation.

I’ve already lost count of how many times Facebook has marked my posts (on my personal timeline) as false, inaccurate or misleading – when I’m only citing reliable sources of information. Well that’s their platform and I’m just a user of it.

Well, someone took a stand and took issue with the way Facebook does this “fact-checking” and the court documents submitted have revealed some intriguing things.

Stossel v Facebook Inc. et al

In September of this year, American television presenter, author and journalist John Frank Stossel sued Facebook, Inc. (now known as Meta Platforms, Inc.), Science Feedback, and Climate Feedback. Stosell has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the social media giant, seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment and an award of damages and costs for alleged defamation.

The complaint states that “Last year, Stossel posted two short video reports on Facebook in which he interviewed climate change experts on facts and data the defendants admit to be true. Without identifying a single false fact contained in the video reports – and in one case, apparently without even bothering to review the video at all – the defendants publicly announced that the Stossel report had failed a fact check.

In a document submitted by attorneys for Meta Platforms, Inc. to the United States District Court (San Jose, California Division) on November 29, 2021 (for Case 5: 21-cv-07385-VKD), Facebook admitted this fact – checks are only opinions or statements of opinion, and not at all factual.

Screenshot of the document

In an article written by Stossel and published by Fremont News-Messenger on December 4, 2021, he said, “Facebook often censors things that should be talked about… I sympathize with Facebook. Some users are spreading lies… But there’s no way Facebook can control all posts, so it does destructive things like teaming up with the Poynter Institute’s “fact checkers”.

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a nonprofit school of journalism and research organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The school owns the Tampa Bay Times and the International Fact-Checking Network. They also operate PolitiFact.

With Facebook admitting that their so-called “fact checkers” are based purely on opinion, it may be time for the social media network to re-label them as “opinion checkers” now.


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