Facebook sparked a wave of anger last week when it announced that it would be using several different websites to “fact-check” news stories on Facebook that might not be 100 percent accurate.
While there is nothing wrong with fact-checking news, the sites that Facebook chose were all notoriously left-leaning, which sparked cries from many that these sites would attack legitimate conservative news articles.
In fact, PolitiFact, one of the websites Facebook wants to use, appears to have its own problems fact-checking itself, Breitbart reported. When rating an article “mostly false” last year, PolitiFact conveniently left out their own conflict of interest.
The story in question was one that claimed that the State Department had funneled money through “One Voice,” a nonprofit organization, in an attempt to stop Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu from winning re-election.
A separate Senate investigation in July found that the State Department did nothing wrong.
While it is entirely possible that Newmark had nothing to do with PolitiFact’s story, a site that prides itself on exposing fake news should at the very least be open about any potential conflicts of interest.
“Craig Newmark is one of many people who have supported PolitiFact’s independent journalism over the past nine years,” Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact’s executive director, told Breitbart in an email. “Contributors donate to PolitiFact knowing they have no say over what we fact-check, or how we rate a claim. The first time contributors see a fact-check is when it’s published.”
Facebook wants to keep the news honest, but it’s going to rely on an organization that won’t even admit when there is a potential conflict of interest. That isn’t setting a great precedent.
If Facebook wants to fact-check news in an unbiased fashion, it must include fact-checkers from both sides of the aisle. Alternatively, they could let people decide what is or is not “fake” for themselves, and not get into the messy business of trying to censor informational content.
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