Facebook fact-checker “Lead Stories” took the social network’s system of “fact-checking” to farcical levels earlier this week when it “fact-checked” a critique of itself by the Federalist’s Molly Hemingway.
An article by Molly Hemingway in the Federalist critiqued the fact-checker for its decision to fact check stories about voter fraud in Georgia:
A Big Tech-backed “fact” “checking” outfit claimed to debunk explosive evidence in support of Republicans’ claims of significant election problems at a Thursday Georgia Senate hearing. It didn’t. Not even close.
Newly discovered security footage from Georgia’s State Farm Arena showed dozens of ballot counters, media, and Republican observers leaving en masse at the same time from the ballot-counting area for Fulton County. After they left, a small remnant of about four workers began pulling trunks containing thousands of ballots from underneath a table with a long tablecloth and running them through machines.
Hemingway then reported on Twitter that her article, critiquing the fact-checker, had been fact-checked.
“With contemporaneous news stories and legal filings, I critiqued a Facebook-funded “fact” “checker.” So Facebook is using the very same “fact-checker” I criticized to censor me — and claiming that fact-checker is “independent.” This is Kafka-esque,” said Hemingway in a tweet.
“To be clear, nothing in the attached “fact” “check” actually deals with anything I wrote — and it is not claiming anything I wrote was erroneous or in need of correction. It’s just pasted on my piece to suppress it being shared.”
To be clear, nothing in the attached "fact" "check" actually deals with anything I wrote — and it is not claiming anything I wrote was erroneous or in need of correction. It's just pasted on my piece to suppress it being shared.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) December 7, 2020
Lead Stories editor-in-chief Alan Duke provided a response to Hemingway’s charges:
While we disagree with the conclusions in The Federalist article concerning our fact check, we did not flag Mollie Hemingway’s story because of that. It was flagged because it also included false claims about election fraud that we had previously debunked. We cannot give a free pass to content that contains such false claims just because they also attack us in the article. That would create a loophole that would allow anyone to avoid fact checking just by including an attack on us.
Hemingway wrote that the claim that a Fulton County election supervisor told Republican observers to go home was backed by sworn affidavits of the observers. We had published a debunk that found the GOP staffers did not say in their sworn statements that they were told to go, prevented from staying, or banned from returning. We published those affidavits in support of our conclusion.
Finally, The Federalist or Hemingway have not pursued their option under Facebook rules to appeal the rating. As Breitbart knows, we follow a fair and simple process for this.
Hemingway has updated her article to include some of the information from our fact check used for the rating. Just a little more editing would be enough to remove the rating.
When a post is fact-checked on Facebook, its distribution is reduced. This empowers the mainstream, corporate media to punish their competitors and force them to adhere to their worldview.
For example, in June, USA Today — a competitor of Breitbart News, and also a Facebook “fact-checker” — allowed an intern to “fact check” a Breitbart News story because they disagreed with Breitbart’s use of the term “amnesty.”
In other words, Facebook’s system forces Breitbart News to follow the mainstream media’s definition of “amnesty,” or else be potentially subject to reduced distribution.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His new book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, is currently available for purchase.
Update — A response to the Federalist from Lead Stories was added to this article after publication.