The Facebook company, now known as Meta, admitted in a legal document that its famous “fact-checkers” whose function is ultimately to limit or censor the dissemination of those news stories they deem ‘not factual’ are simply biased opinions.
Facebook’s admission was learned through a deposition the company made in a defamation lawsuit by conservative news anchor John Stossel because the social network began limiting exposure to two of his videos on climate change.
Stossel accuses Meta of posting a notification that one of his videos was “partially false,” which in practical terms limits or outright censors the video’s circulation on the platform and thus affects his work.
Responding to the presenter’s lawsuit, Facebook’s legal representation first disassociates itself from responsibility for the tags saying that they are placed by Science Feedback, one of its fact-checkers, and not by the company itself.
And second, it assures that “the labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion,” reasons why the company cannot be sued for defamation.
Stossel, who wrote an op-ed in the New York Post, disavowed Facebook’s response, exclaiming, “Wait, Facebook’s fact-checks are just ‘opinion’?! I thought fact-checks are statements of fact.”
The host quoting Facebook explains that when the social network applies a tag to the post, it is ‘disavowing’ your content and placing a link to what would be ‘the truth’ or the true fact that refutes the post.
Stossel disproves Facebook by saying that it is the platform that applies the tags beyond directing you to a link from one of their fact-checkers.
In one of the videos for which Stossel sued Facebook, he says the California wildfires are exacerbated by government mismanagement, but the fact-checkers censored him because his statement downplays the climate change narrative.
In the second video that Facebook censored him from, titled “are we doomed,” Stossel says that while climate change has made things worse, there are steps that can be taken without panicking and that countries like the Netherlands have managed to counteract the effects of supposed climate change.
When the presenter argued with the fact-checkers who labeled his video as fake, they told him that there was no fake or incorrect ‘fact’; rather, they disagreed with the “tone” of his voice.
Allegations of censorship on social media came to prominence with the tenure of Donald Trump, who was one of the highest-profile figures who publicly singled out Big Tech for censoring conservative views or those opinions contrary to what is considered “official.”
The former president made many attempts to change Section 230 of the Decency in Communications Act which gives online platforms immunity when censoring people’s posts but failed to materialize it.
Trump unleashed a battle against the mainstream media and some platforms, calling them “enemies of the people” for reporting positive facts as negative and for particularly attacking his administration for being politically incorrect.
The former president was eventually banned from major social media while still in office following the January 6 incidents on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.
Next year, Trump will launch his own social network called Truth Social, in which he promises to give voice to all opinions and unseat the big Silicon Valley companies.