'YIKES on Every Level': PolitiFact Founder Urges More Social-Media Suppression for 2024

December 20th, 2023 4:00 PM

Bill Adair, a founder of PolitiFact, has a new piece at Nieman Lab on predictions for 2024. He complained that "fact-checking is failing," that the old standard of posting your fact checks on a website isn’t working. The old standard of "informing democracy" isn't working, and he’s upset that "it’s pretty clear from the research that Republicans distrust political fact-checking."

But the problem isn’t correcting their obvious tilt, it’s that their suppression isn’t energetic enough. The conservatives are not converted! Former New York Times political analyst Nate Silver threw a "Yikes on every level" at this article! 

In response to a reply asking how there could be more marketing for fact-checkers, Silver also tweeted "IDK how they go from acknowledging that people trust fact checking less and less to being like 'yes we need to triple down on everything we've been doing for the past 8 years'." 

Adair wrote:

In the coming year, I predict (okay, I hope) that fact-checkers will reassess their goals and reimagine how they publish their work. It’s time to get rid of our old approach and 2024, an election year, is an ideal time.

After I founded PolitiFact in 2007, I often said that our goal wasn’t to change people’s minds or get politicians to stop lying — it was simply to inform democracy. In the last few years, I’ve changed my mind. “Informing democracy” is not enough in an age of rampant lies about elections and public health and climate. Fact-checkers need to be more assertive in getting truthful information to the audience that needs it.

In 2024, they will dream up new ways of getting the facts to the people who need them. Fact-checkers will be bold and think more like marketers trying to push content rather than publishers waiting for the audience to come to a website. They will experiment with new forms that target the people who are misinformed and push the content directly to them.

Another way they will innovate: They’ll get tech companies and social media platforms to expand the use of fact-checking data to suppress misinformation.

Adair boasted his team at Duke "helped develop ClaimReview, a tagging system used by most of the world’s fact-checkers. Tech companies such as Google use it to identify fact-checks and highlight them in search results and news summaries." He also touted  MediaReview as "a sibling tagging system for fact-checks of videos and images, can be used more widely to suppress inaccurate content."

As usual, it can be constructive to call attention to manipulated video or flatly misleading content. But the "checkers" have a nasty ideological tendency to find "misinformation" in any argument they don't like, or on issues that might be damaging to Democrats.

It's perfectly clear that Adair deeply believes they need to "change people's minds" to accept the liberal media narrative. Only then will "misinformation" be defeated.