Monday, 09 July 2018

Fact-checking? Facebook is Fiction-checking Conservative News and Calling It “Fake”

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“You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts,” goes a saying attributed to liberal icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The liberals at Facebook may disagree, however: They’re confusing fiction with fact as they “fiction check” conservative sites into oblivion. A good example is a recent PJ Media article that was wrongly labeled fake news and then “deprioritized”; this is a euphemistic way of saying it was banished to Facebook Siberia, which is a colorful way of saying that the truth was buried and not seen by many readers.

The piece was written by Paula Bolyard and concerns a new California bill that would limit residents’ water usage to 55 gallons a day starting in 2022, a figure that would drop to 50 in 2030. Facebook used as a fact-checker AFP Canada, which claimed the article was a “mixture” of truth and falsehoods. Yet this claim that Bolyard peddled fake news is itself fake news.

The AFP made two incorrect assertions about Bolyard’s article:

• That she stated the California law would make it illegal to take a shower and do laundry on the same day. What she actually said is that state residents “may have to choose between showers and laundry” due to the restrictions.

• That Bolyard said the bill prescribed the fining of individuals who violate the law. The AFP points out that only “urban water suppliers” would be subject to such. Yet the latter is precisely what Bolyard claimed, that “water providers” face hefty fines.

The AFP also took issue with Bolyard’s assertion that it would be easy to exceed the 55-gallon daily limit, even though she cited figures showing that average Americans use 80 to 100 gallons a day. The news organ’s reasoning is that there are “water efficient devices, which means individuals can easily have a shower and do their laundry using far less than 55 gallons,” the AFP writes.

And based on this shoddy analysis, Bolyard’s article was buried so as to reduce its exposure.

Bolyard writes of Facebook’s fiction-checking endeavors that the social-media giant “announced last year that they will be using third-party fact-checkers to root out ‘fake news’ on their platform. At the time of the announcement, conservatives sounded the alarm about how some of the fact-checkers they’re using are left-wing hacks like PolitiFact and Snopes (who [sic] recently, with straight facesfact-checked a piece of satire from The Babylon Bee).”

She also wonders why AFP Canada — part of France’s state-run Agence France-Presse — is fact-checking American news. Are facts foreign to Facebook?

In reality, though, Facebook’s American fact-checkers — which include ABC, the Associated Press, and Politifact — are left-wing entities all. As for Snopes, how has it become regarded as a supposedly valid “fact-checking” site?

Because it said it was.

Snopes was founded by one couple, David and Barbara Mikkelson, who, last we heard, couldn’t even agree on the facts in their own relationship: As of 2016, they were locked in a bitter legal dispute in which they accuse each other of financial impropriety. And here’s another fact for you. It sounds like a joke opening, but a prostitute, a dominatrix, and an accused embezzler walk into Snopes. What happens?

They get hired.

As I reported in 2016, such people actually were working for the fact-checking site.

The point isn’t to dismiss all Snopes’ work. I myself sometimes consult it; after all, if at issue is a claim damaging to leftism that Snopes labels true, it’s a good indicator of its veracity (principle: you can’t trust Snopes, but you can trust Snopes to be Snopes).

The problem is regarding any entity, let alone these left-wing ones, as the Ministry of Truth. As I understand they still teach in journalism school, everyone has a bias. This is true. Heck, at The New American we have our Steve Byas.

Joking aside, what isn’t mentioned about this reality, and wouldn’t be in this relativistic, shades-of-gray time, is the only relevant factor: Whether you’re biased in favor of the Truth — or lies.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media Facebook relies on have shown utter contempt for Truth. Just consider how CNN figures were caught on hidden camera last year admitting that they knew the Trump/Russia/collusion story was nonsense, but they were pushing it, anyway, driven by ratings and ideology (video below).

The point here is that CNN has no special, desert-mystic-like insight; if they knew the collusion story was, let’s say, bovine manure, to clean up a description one CNN figure used, the rest of the mainstream media had to know it also. This includes ABC, the Associated Press, and probably the rest of Facebook’s fiction-checkers.

Of course, it’s unlikely that Facebook cares much about this. With the post-2016-election pressure to eliminate “fake news,” it wants to appear as if it’s taking remedial action. Besides, ex-workers from the company admitted in 2016 that they actively censored conservative sources simply because they were conservative.

So the problem isn’t fake news but that Facebook is a fake social-media platform, claiming to operate like one but actually behaving as a regular publisher. Thus people can be forgiven for wondering if the bias of its fact-checkers is a feature and not a bug.

Photo: keport/iStock/Getty Images Plus

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