Anyone who’s been online over the last several years knows all about “fact-checks.”
Those are statements that purportedly are assembled by experts for companies like Facebook or Twitter – or media outlets like legacy newspaper corporations – that claim to express the truthfulness of online statements.
But now Americans know that those comments essentially are used to try to direct the narrative on an issue, whether it is global warming or corruption in the Democrat party.
It’s because Facebook has admitted in a court filing its “fact-checks” are nothing but someone’s opinion.
Longtime climate change blogger Anthony Watts explained on his site that Facebook’s confession came in a court fight with commentator and journalist John Stossel.
The Hollywood Reporter explained only weeks ago that Stossel sued Facebook for adding the corporation’s comments to his posting about 2020 California forest fires.
His complaint explained, “This case presents a simple question: do Facebook and its vendors defame a user who posts factually accurate content, when they publicly announce that the content failed a ‘fact-check’ and is ‘partly false,’ and by attributing to the user a false claim that he never made? The answer, of course, is yes.”
The dispute arose out of Stossel’s post called “Government Fueled Fires” when he wrote about the hypothesis that climate change is behind forest fires.
It undoubtedly contributes, he suggested, but it likely was not the primary cause of the 2020 fires in California.
Facebook immediately said his posting was “missing context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.”
It also claimed Stossel was “misleading” because “Claim – ‘forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.'”
Stossel alleged that claim was falsely attributed to him, and the Facebook statements were damaging to him.
Watts explained now that Facebook is defending itself against Stossel’s charges by claiming the “fact-checks” are “protected opinion.”
The report explained Facebook now has blown “the ‘fact check’ claim right out of the water.”
The company said, in a court document, it cannot be sued for defamation because of its fact-checks.
“The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion,” claimed the company.
Watts pointed out opinions are not subject to defamation claims, while false assertions of fact can be.
He explained, “So, in a court of law, in a legal filing, Facebook admits that its ‘fact checks’ are not really ‘fact’ checks at all, but merely ‘opinion assertions.’ This strikes me as public relations disaster, and possibly a looming legal disaster for Facebook, PolitiFact, Climate Feedback and other left-leaning entities that engage in biased ‘fact checking.'”
He said it appears now that “fact checks” are nothing more than part of an agenda to suppress free speech and the open discussion of science, “by disguising liberal media activism as something supposedly factual, noble, neutral, trustworthy, and based on science.”
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