Facebook Forced To Admit To Its Anti-Democratic Goals

Facebook is now admitting what most people have known for some time to be true: Its fact-checks are opinions instead of definitive facts. In court documents related to one defamation lawsuit issued by John Stossel, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said that the platform would not defame the veteran reporter because they were simply giving an opinion when they labeled his videos about climate change as “partially false.”

Meta says that Stossel was not defamed since the fact-checks were done by a third-party group. All Facebook did was put labels on the videos based on… the articles created by the fact-checkers and the conclusions they came to. As such, the labels “constituted protected opinion,” said Meta’s attorneys.

Essentially, Facebook is now trying to remove itself from claims that fact-checkers it depends on, in this, a French global warming operation called Climate Feedback, which Stossel said had defamed him by using disparaging labels on his videos connected to climate change.

But Meta says, “even if Stossel might attribute Climate Feedback’s webpages to Meta, the challenged comments on those pages are neither defamatory nor false.”

But Facebook “used malice and defamed Stossel,” the reporter’s attorneys said in their initial complaint. “First, they said that Stossel had made a claim he didn’t make, and which caused some of his viewers to shun him. Defendants made this false connection recklessly, before they had even looked at his video. And even after Stossel spoke of the issue, Defendants refused to change their speech, and intentionally allowed the false attribution to stay online for anybody to see, where it stays today.”

“With this lawsuit, Stossel requests the Court to say that the Defendants are not allowed to use the masquerade of a ‘fact-check’ to defame him without punishment, and that they must pay him for the damage they caused by their disparaging and fake comments about his reporting,” the complaint said.

Meta admits that Facebook used “independent third-party fact-checkers to rate, analyze and find possible misinformation on the Facebook platform” and says the use of “independent” fact-checkers guarantees “that Meta does not turn into the arbiter of truth,” according to the legal filing. “Though Meta identifies possible misinformation for fact-checkers to rate and review, it leaves the ultimate determination to the fact-checkers. And even though Meta has created its platforms so that fact-checker ratings show next to content that these fact-checkers have rated, it does not have any connection to the substance of these ratings.”

Author: Blake Ambrose