Saturday 29 June 2024

Fact-checking network says online fact checks aren’t censorship

 We now live in a world where “fact-checkers” organize “annual meetings” – one is happening just this week in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


These censorship-overseers for other companies (most notably massive social platforms like Facebook, etc.) have not only converged onto Sarajevo but have issued a “statement” that includes the town’s name.

The Poynter Institute is a major player in this space, and its International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) serves to coordinate censorship for Meta, among others.

It was up to IFCN now to issue the “Sarajevo statement” on behalf of 130 groups in the “fact-checking” business, a burgeoning industry at this point spreading its tentacles to at least 80 countries – that is how many are behind the said statement.

No surprise, these “fact-checkers” like themselves, and see nothing wrong with what they do; the self-affirming statement refers to the (Poynter-led) brand of “fact-checking” as essential to free speech (will someone fact-check that statement, though?)

The reason the focus is on free speech is clear – “fact-checkers” have over and over again proven themselves to be either inept, biased, serving as tools of censorship, all three, or some combination of those.

That is why their “annual meeting” now declares, with a seemingly straight face, that “fact-checking” is not only a free-speech advocate but “should never be considered a form of censorship.”

But who’s going to tell Meta? In the wake of the 2016 US presidential elections, Facebook basically became the fall guy picked by those who didn’t like the outcome of the vote, accusing the platform of being the place where a (since debunked) massive “misinformation meddling campaign” happened.

Aware of the consequences its business might suffer if such a perceived image continued, Facebook by 2019, just ahead of another election, had as many as 50 “fact-checking” partners, “reviewing and rating” content.

In 2019, reports were clearly spelling out how the thing works – it’s in stark contrast with the “Sarajevo statement” and the “… never censorship…” claim.

And this is how it worked: “Fact-checked” posts are automatically marked on Facebook, and videos that have been rated as “false” are still shareable but are shown lower in news feeds by Facebook’s algorithm.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also said that warning labels on posts curb the number of shares by 95%.

“We work with independent fact-checkers. Since the COVID outbreak, they have issued 7,500 notices of misinformation which has led to us issuing 50 million warning labels on posts. We know these are effective because 95% of the time, users don’t click through to the content with a warning label,” Zuckerberg revealed.

That was before the 2020 vote. There is not one reason to believe that, if things have in the meanwhile changed, they have changed for the better – at least where free speech is concerned.

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