Back in August, I wrote an article where I explained how so-called 'fact-checks' are merely editorials. In that write-up, I identified and explained how some 'fact-checks' from Politifact and Snopes were off the mark. A few excerpts below:
In addition, PolitiFact thought it would be a good idea to "fact check" an interpretative statement on whether Blake "brandished" a knife. The site cited the Merriam-Webster dictionary which defined "brandishing" as waving an object around menacingly. The definition has inherent subjectivity as it is on the eyes of the beholder if Blake was waving whatever item he was holding menacingly or not. PolitiFact also asserted that Blake could not be holding a knife because the picture was too blurry for a person to discern what Blake was holding. However, in that same article, it cited a witness who heard the police shouting "Drop the knife! Drop the knife!" [Check out Viva Frei's video on this for more info.]
This Medium article from Political Dissent also provides other good examples of Snopes's sneakiness. Its article, “How Swede is It”, shoots down a strawman that “[Sweden] has passed laws mandating fewer work hours” despite the fact that the Facebook videos it tried to "fact check" never made such a claim. Snopes was also extremely pedantic in another article, “Al Franken Said His Judgment is More Important than His Constituents”. While Franken did not specifically that exact sentence, he did say he would cast his superdelegate vote for then-2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, breaking from Minnesota's caucus results. In a sense, you can interpret that as him considering his judgment to be more valuable than his constituents. But the problem is that Snopes never cited who actually made that specific claim.
To cite another old article of mine, there was also the time where the mainstream media and social media platforms rejected and censored the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis, respectively. However, by late May of this year, the theory was no longer politically incorrect in spite of evidence dating back to late 2019 that SARS-COV-2 could have escaped from a virology lab in Wuhan, China.
Fast forward to present day, Facebook (or Meta) has confirmed the true nature of its 'fact-checks': they are "protected opinion" to quote their court filing.
In late September 2021, Libertarian journalist John Stossel sued the corporation for defamation. He took issue with how Facebook censored a video he made on climate change claims and labelled it as false. When he interviewed with climate scientist Patrick Brown, the scientist said that the main issue with Stossel's video was more lack of context than false statements though Stossel argued that his video had proper context. Regardless, based on Brown's assessment, Facebook's 'fact-check' would be unwarranted.
On top of that, as Stossel explained in another video, Facebook partners with a bunch of third party 'fact-checkers' from an organization called the Poynter Institute. However, the organization is far from an impartial entity with articles having titles such as "Is it possible to decolonize the media?". This is big problem as whenever Facebook does a 'fact-check', justifiably or not, it embeds links to articles of these third party 'fact-checkers' that are more partisan than unbiased.
In response to Stossel's lawsuit, Facebook countered in its court filing that "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects Meta from liability for material posted to the Facebook platforms by third parties" (Page 1-2). On top of that, Facebook argued that Stossel failed to prove actual defamation and "the [fact-checks] themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion" (Page 2). Lastly, the corporation claimed that "merely paying someone to create content does not strip an interactive service provider of Section 230’s protection" (Page 9).
Even if Facebook's arguments hold water, it does not necessarily mean what it is doing is not suspicious and corrupt. Checking any English dictionary, "fact" and "opinion" are not synonymous. By calling its 'fact-checks' as "protected opinion", Facebook has admitted that they do not actually function the way their names suggest. Instead, as I already pointed out months ago, they are merely editorials masquerading as information.
To make things worse, Facebook pays these entities to redirect content that they think (rather than proven) to be false to their 'fact-check' articles. This is far closer to publisher behavior than platform behavior. It's a serious problem because without any checks and balances, Facebook and other mainstream social media can manipulate their users in an ominous Big Brother fashion. This is especially true when they have expressed desire to control the flow of opinions on the internet and participated as state actors.