Pfacebook Pfact Checkers
In news that will surprise no one, a major Facebook Fact Check partner is revealed to be significantly funded by Pfizer.
Know what that sounds like?
GB News’ Mark Steyn interviewed Natalie Winters from The National Pulse last night to expose independent fact checkers as anything but independent. The International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) partners extensively with Meta to combat Covid misinformation worldwide. Turns out, though, that Pfizer has been funding programs for the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) since 2008.
Watch the interview below.
Read the original National Pulse article HERE.
Of course, large organisations need funding. The problem is that these fact checker organisations purport to be independent. This is a clear conflict of interest. When a company funded by Pfizer is tasked with flagging ‘misinformation’ regarding Pfizer products, can we trust them to be truly independent in their decision making? Should any company funded by a huge pharma organisation with a history of criminal conduct be allowed to be involved in the sorting of true from false when it comes to matters involving their sponsor?
This is corporate capture, masquerading as independent journalism.
Thought pieces on democratic communication and general pandemic related fuckery. Subscribe below.
Incidentally, if you Google the National Pulse, some fact checkers say they’re a far right conspiracy theory publication that is uncredible due to extreme political bias. Pot, kettle, black. See this 2020 article in which The National Pulse finds fact checkers Lead Stories to have extreme political bias in the counter direction. It is dishonest to treat political bias as proof of being uncredible on the one hand, and entirely ignore it on the other hand.
One of the most troubling aspects of the above article is that Lead Stories provided no recourse for challenging their fact check, which applied some straw-man shade to The National Pulse’s investigative piece. In a democratic public space, there should be built in avenues for continuing dialogue in the process of meaning-making, in order to find out what is true. Unless the information environment is anti-democratic. Then we would expect censorship and context warnings without recourse.
In this one example, Lead Stories contravened two of Meta’s code of principles for partner fact checker organisation. These principles are also detailed on Lead Stories' own website:
The corporate and political capture of ‘independent’ fact checkers is now obvious as it is alarming. Just last week, it transpired that Alex Berenson, ex-New York Times science writer and he of infamous Twitter ban, was flagged by the White House for removal from Twitter several months before the company used fact checker reports to legitimise their move to ban Berenson from the platform. In the ensuing court case, Twitter was shown to be in the wrong, Berenson’s tweets were shown to be factual, and Berenson’s account was restored to the platform. Most people do not have the resources and support that Berenson had to push back against the weaponisation of misinformation, peddled and enforced as it was in this case by the combined efforts of the White House, Twitter and ‘independent’ fact checkers.
Naomi Wolf provides another high profile case. Booted from Twitter for her critical tweets about Covid measures (including vaccines and lockdowns), Wolf cited anecdotal evidence that Covid vaccines were causing disruption to women’s menstrual cycles. This was branded as publicly dangerous misinformation by fact checkers. The claims are now well documented and accepted as hard fact, even by the NIH. For a good 12 months, women were falsely assured by health agencies that Covid vaccines could have no impact on their fertility or cycles, and, with the removal of any dissenting comments or commentators from major platforms, women were denied the opportunity to be exposed to counter claims. Counter claims which turned out to be correct. The shutting down of public discourse in this way has serious implications for public health.
Israeli writer Etana Hecht wrote a great piece on the censorship surrounding Wolf and pandemic related content, here:
A third and final case, that of Norman Fenton, who detailed the extraordinary lengths that Wikipedia editors went to to defame him and prevent correction of factually inaccurate entries. READ HERE.
Capture by corporation, political institution or ideology is a real and present danger to our democratic discourse. The consequences range from loss of livelihoods, to smeared reputations, to impacts on public health. If I can impress one idea on readers today, it is that we must not outsource our thinking to ‘independent’ fact checkers, as time and again they have proven to be anything but independent. Fact checkers should be subject to the same critical lens that we apply to any other source. There is no short cut substitute for thinking, sorting and assessing information. And, if someone wants to tell you what you can and can’t do, say or think, DOUBLY QUESTION.
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