WSJ: Facebook ‘Fact-Checkers’ No Better than ‘Trolls’

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: The Facebook logo is displayed during the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the opening keynote to the FB Developer conference that runs through May 1. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Facebook’s “fact checkers” are “no better than trolls who pan political adversaries’ books on Amazon without bothering to read them,” writes physicist Steven E. Koonin in a stinging op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.

Facebook is “spreading disinformation under the guise of ‘fact checking,’” Koonin writes, in an unscientific effort to protect a single narrative that brooks no opposition or dispute.

The case in point was Mark Mills’s April 25 Journal review of Koonin’s own book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, a recent bestseller questioning some of the shibboleths regarding the so-called established “climate change consensus.”

Eleven self-appointed “fact checkers” with a vested interest in the debate critiqued the review on the website, Koonin notes, and Facebook now waves that fact check “as a giant red flag whenever the review appears in anyone’s feed.”

“This action adds to the growing suppression of open discussion of climate complexities,” Koonin observes, which stymies the advance of true science, which depends on “thoughtful challenge and dialogue.”

“Wise responses to the changing climate require that we get the unfiltered certainties and uncertainties of climate science into the public dialogue,” Koonin argues, and “there is far more unsettled in the official United Nations and U.S. government reports than we have been led to believe.”

Big Tech’s use of thought police and guardians of groupthink has come under growing scrutiny as evidence mounts concerning the subjective criteria by which ideas are accepted or rejected as “acceptable” or “dangerous.” This is especially true when divergent perspectives are offered on sensitive topics like transgenderism, climate change, or abortion, where only one viewpoint is deemed acceptable.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published another essay warning of Facebook’s “secret rules” used to police users’ accounts and remove “offensive” material.

In the essay, writer Kirsten Grind noted that social media users can wind up in “Facebook jail” for almost any reason whatsoever by applying hazy categories of suitability such as “false news” and “hate speech,” allowing for considerable margin of subjective interpretation.

Grind also underscored Facebook’s frequent recourse to shadow banning, the practice of concealing certain posts or entire accounts without the users’ awareness.

“Facebook increasingly polices content in ways that aren’t disclosed to users, in hopes of avoiding disputes over its decisions, according to current and former employees,” Grind wrote.

“The algorithms bury questionable posts, showing them to fewer users, quietly restricting the reach of those suspected of misbehavior rather than taking down the content or locking them out of the platform entirely,” she added.

In February, Facebook removed posts advertising a book criticizing the “toxic femininity” and Marxist roots of radical feminism, claiming the posts violated the company’s “commerce policies.”

The book in question — The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Femininity — was written by Carrie Gress, PhD, a Catholic professor at Pontifex University and mother of five.

The ads were also banned on Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, and the book experienced repeated “glitches” on Amazon as well, with the removal of buttons to purchase the book.

Dr. Gress told Breitbart News she thinks her use of the expression “toxic femininity” has irritated radical feminists, who think of toxicity as the exclusive domain of males.

“I can imagine those words in my title could be a trigger,” Gress said. “As I note in the book, women are supposed to be untouchable as long as they do what the reigning culture tells them to do.”


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