Fact-checkers rule the Wild West of Facebook and have now expanded their efforts to interfere in Australian elections. But if they can do it there, they can do it in America too just in time for 2024.
Australia is voting on a referendum on whether to amend its constitution this fall, and according to a Sky News Australia investigation, Meta-paid so-called fact-checkers are already taking sides. "The entire operation is a sham," Sky News host and lead investigator Jack Houghton told Andrew Bolt on Sky News’s Bolt Report. He noted that Facebook defers to the Soros-funded International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to certify its fact-checkers as credible. However, those certifications expire, and both Meta and IFCN have reportedly allowed wildly biased fact-checkers with expired credentials to police election-related speech on Facebook. As he noted in the segment, if Meta and IFCN can unfairly censor in Australia they can do it anywhere—even in America.
Sky News examined 17 fact-checks from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Fact Lab (RMIT) that Facebook tacked onto content between May 3 and June 23. All of the content examined was related to the Voice to Parliament referendum, which if affirmed, would create a new legislative advisory body in Australia. The result was disturbing.
“They seem to be just targeting views of people who are against the Voice [referendum],” Houghton said. He later added that “All of the 17 Voice [referendum fact] checks were checking semantics, or slight verbal missteps or just comments from people who don't want the Voice to go ahead.” Highlighting the bias he added, “there was plenty of stuff on the yes side that could have been fact-checked.” He noted political leaders who made claims oversimplifying the legislative process.
It also seems Facebook is complicit in this election-interfering bias. In his investigative report, Houghton wrote, “Meta maintains its fact-checking operation is at arm’s length and independent, but Sky News can reveal the tech giant signed a secret commercial contract directly with RMIT which allows the fact-checking unit to be paid up to $740,000 [AUD] [$478,685. USD] a year from an Irish Meta subsidiary.”
It’s worth noting, however, that theoretically, RMIT should not have been fact-checking at all between the months of May and June because its fact-checking certification expired last December. RMIT also reportedly violated IFCN’s Code of Principles, which forbids IFCN applicants from “unduly concentrat[ing] its fact-checking on any one side.”
“Well, that’s what’s happening here,” Houghton told Bolten. “But when we pointed this out to the IFCN they said, ‘Well, we don’t care. We’re not going to tell them how to follow the rule.’ And what that tells me is that this entire ecosystem that Mark Zuckerberg, the Meta founder, has set up, it’s not working the way that they have told the public it works. So it’s not just Australia.”
Houghton is correct. It is not just Australia. If Facebook fact-checkers can interfere in an election in Australia, then the platform can do it anywhere. In fact, it’s already been done in America when Facebook used fact-checking as an excuse to bury the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, the precursor to the alleged Biden family bribery scandals, just before the 2020 election. A 2020 MRC study found that the censorship contributed to the stealing of the 2020 election for Biden. If 9.4 percent of Biden voters had been aware of the story, they would have changed their vote, and former President Donald Trump would have been reelected.
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