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Facebook’s “Fact-Checker” Has an Accuracy Problem

If Facebook is genuinely trying to crack down on the so-called “fake news” problem, a liberal organization known for its bias and outright falsehoods is probably the wrong partner for a fact-checking program.

Last December, Facebook announced that it would be utilizing independent third parties to flag disputed content shared on its platform. The social media giant had faced complaints of allowing fake stories to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. These allegations came on the heels of a whistleblower’s accusation that Facebook employees routinely suppressed conservative content from the platform’s trending news section.

However, Facebook is partnering with Snopes.com for a feature that alerts users when a story has been disputed or deemed inaccurate. You can see screenshots here from the Daily Mail that show how this feature works.

The problem with the Facebook/Snopes partnership is that Snopes has a history of distorting facts when it comes fact-checking stories. Here are some of the most flagrant examples:

  • Snopes lied about visible American flags at the 2016 Democratic Convention and used images from different days as “proof.”
  • Snopes gave Live Action’s investigation that exposed Planned Parenthood’s lack of prenatal care services a “mostly false” rating despite admitting that many Planned Parenthood locations do not actually offer prenatal care, which is what Live Action set out to prove in the first place.
  • Snopes determined that Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub shooter, had an “unknown” political affiliation despite being registered to vote as a Democrat in the State of Florida.

Instead of conducting real research or performing investigations, Snopes regularly omits information while reposting the talking points it agrees with in order to present a very one-sided view. For example, this is how Snopes tried to explain Target’s devastating drop in stock price earlier this year:

Target shares did plunge on 28 February 2017, but it wasn’t due to its nearly year-old bathroom policy. The drop was due to 2017 guidance announced during an investor day event. Projections were far lower than expected by Wall Street analysts (the term “guidance” means projected earnings).

The spin from Snopes is that millions who have decided to shop #AnywhereButTARGET had absolutely no effect on “lower than expected” earnings and using Target’s own talking points as “proof.”

Ultimately, it’s concerning that in order to combat “fake news” Facebook would partner with a “fact-checking” organization that doesn’t always seem to care about all the facts. That makes us wonder if Facebook is partnering with Snopes, just like it has with Soros-backed organizations, because of Facebook’s own positions. See more on where Facebook stands on the issues with our scorepage here.

  • Paul Raymond

    I think it’s time that we make plugins that bypass the censorship software for Google and Facebook. If there is a way to make plugins to block ads put out by Facebook and Google, then there should be a way to make plugins to block FB censorship. The only question is, we’d need to know what functions on the sites are doing the censorship.

    I recall that the AdBlocks worked on FB for a while but eventually FB went and changed the code so that the elements that have the ads were intertwined with the regular content, thus, when it was blocking ads, it took out regular content too, thus making the AdBlocker less useful. (Though eventually the AdBlocker figured out a way around this.)

  • James Vipond

    I consider Hoax-Slayer to be more trustworthy than Snopes.

  • dmprisk

    my cat is more Trustworthy than Snopes.

  • morahl

    Thanks for this well researced article.

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