fact checkers Facebook John Stossel

John Stossel’s Lawsuit Against Facebook Reveals “Fact-Checkers” Aren’t Factual

For years, the American public has been subjected to an unrelenting left-wing echo chamber.

Typically, it begins with Democrats making statements or policies, backed with favorable coverage by the national media. Or the national media floats liberal policies or comments, which are championed by Democrats. And after each side quotes the other to reinforce its biases, the “fact-checkers” move in as a mop-up operation, to defend the liberal talking points, or alternately to trash conservatives who challenge them.

Yet in a recent court filing, Facebook, now known as Meta, underscores what many of the right already knew: that the “fact-checkers” are themselves not arbiters of the “truth,” but opinion-makers whose mission is to advocate the liberal agenda.

The filing, uncovered by the website WhatsUpWithThat.com, was made on Nov. 29, in a case in which libertarian journalist John Stossel is suing Meta for defamation.

Stossel maintains he was libeled by Meta’s fact-checkers who slapped derogatory labels on a report he posted to his Facebook page about climate change.

In its response, Meta claims Stossel has failed to prove his case.

Setting aside the legal argument, Meta proves Stossel’s point with its own words.

In court documents, the social media giant notes, “Meta relies on independent third-party fact-checkers to identify, rate, and analyze potential misinformation on the Facebook platform. The independence of the fact-checkers is a deliberate feature of Meta’s fact-checking program, designed to ensure that Meta does not become the arbiter of truth on its platforms.”

In other words, Meta tells the umpires what to review, but farms out the decision to them – thus, in part, avoiding direct culpability for their rulings, which is the argument Meta hopes a judge will buy and use to dismiss Stossel’s case.

In Stossel’s case, Meta relied on the expertise of a radical group called Climate Feedback.

According to the conservative group Influence Watch, Climate Feedback is “primarily critical of right-of-center outlets, or right-leaning authors writing op-eds on neutral or left-leaning platforms.”

The group further notes that its look at the first 20 evaluations on Climate Feedback’s website revealed that “right-leaning outlets received eight low ratings, while not receiving any high ratings, and left-leaning outlets received eight high ratings while not receiving any low ratings.” The rest were deemed neutral.

In court records, Meta argues, “Stossel’s claims focus on the fact-check articles written by Climate Feedback, not the labels affixed through the Facebook platform. The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion.”

But by Facebook’s own legal filing, it is the labels themselves that signal how the “fact-checkers” have ruled.

Meta noted, “If a fact-checker determines that content is altered, missing context, false, or partly false, Facebook then applies a label to the content so that other users can read additional details about the fact-check. The label is placed on top of the flagged content and states the independent fact-checkers rating.”

Yet these labels, which are derived directly from the fact-checks that Meta says it relies on to determine what is true, “constitute protected opinion,” the company says in court records.

Elsewhere in its filing, Meta maintains, “Stossel does not claim that [the missing context] label is actionably false — presumably because it is protected opinion. The conclusion that the video was ‘missing context’ is necessarily a judgment call, one that is ‘not capable of verification or refutation by means of objective proof.’”

Yet, again, Meta tells the world that, in this case, its grade of Stossel’s content was based on something that cannot be objectively verified.

Later in the document, Meta again acknowledges that Stossel and Climate Feedback are embroiled in disagreement.

“Climate Feedback disclosed the factual basis for its opinion, and there is no allegation that the facts Climate Feedback relied on to determine that the Alarmism Video was partly false were themselves inaccurate.”

Stossel may not prevail, but he has performed a valuable service by getting the liberals to admit that “fact-checking” in itself is nothing more than opinion-making under the guise of determining the truth.

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