A Republican Party and a conservative movement that has moved from facts to beliefs are outraged that Facebook would use a coalition of fact checkers in their effort to weed out fake news.
Facebook announced that they are partnering with third party fact checkers in an effort not allow spammers and hoaxers to profit off of fake news, “We believe providing more context can help people decide for themselves what to trust and what to share. We’ve started a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations. If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.”
The news that fact checkers will be involved sent conservative media into a tizzy.
A similar narrative quickly spread through conservative websites.
The Daily Caller was not pleased that Snopes is one of the fact checkers that Facebook has turned to, “As part of a new initiative cracking down on fake news announced on Thursday, Facebook will be partnering up with third party “fact-check” organizations that will alert users if a story they are about to read or share is “disputed.” One of the organizations Facebook is partnering up with is Snopes, which The Daily Caller has exposed more than once butchering the truth or seemingly outright lying in service of a liberal narrative.
Breitbart claimed that the fact checkers are partisans, “Facebook has announced it will introduce warning labels on stories they deem to be “fake news,” with the help of partisan “fact checking” organisations such as Snopes and PolitiFact.”
The headline on the top of The Drudge Report, “FAKEBOOK TO LABEL ‘NEWS'”
The reason why conservative media is so outraged is that they have been conditioned to distrust anything that doesn’t come from their own movement. Fox News built a cable news empire by selling their viewers the belief that Fox News is the only network that tells the truth.
The problem for Republicans and conservatives is that as the GOP has moved more to the right and embraced belief over fact, the statements published and broadcast on conservative media have also tilted more into feeling and belief instead of fact and truth.
Facebook isn’t going to silence conservative media. If they did, all journalists everywhere would be opposed to such a violation of both free speech and freedom of the press. Facebook is going to alert readers to stories that don’t check out.
In many ways, conservatives brought this on themselves. Their complaints over what they believed to be biased from Facebook’s Newsfeed editors led to the dismissal of the editors, which allowed obviously fake news websites to game Facebook and launch viral stories full of false content.
Conservative skepticism is understandable, but allegations of partisan bias are not.
The easy way for conservatives to avoid getting flagged by the fact checkers on Facebook is to make sure their stories are based on facts, and if they aren’t, the stories should be clearly expressed as opinion.
Facebook could be doing journalism a big favor by setting the bar higher for factual standards in reporting and publishing.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association