San Francisco, CA — Lawyers for Facebook, now knowns as Meta Platforms, admitted the third-party “fact-checkers” the site uses to flag so-called “misinformation” are merely opinion and not based on fact.
That admission came in court filings on Nov. 29 in response to a September defamation lawsuit filed by journalist John Stossel after two videos, in which he interviews experts on climate change, of his were flagged as “misleading,” “missing context” and “partly false” by the so-called “fact-checkers” contracted by Facebook.
Facebook called the “fact-checks” as “opinion” and therefore “constitute protected opinion.”
Stossel is seeking $2 million in damages, according to Breitbart, after his viewership fell following the “fact-checks.” Facebook flagged the videos within the last year, although both videos are older.
Stossel’s lawsuit asks the question if it’s defamation for “factually accurate content” to be flagged by “fact-checkers” as “partly false.”
The “fact-checkers” are “currently serving as judge, jury, and executioner regarding whether users are on the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side of a complex scientific debate. And when user content challenges the scientific opinions with which Defendants agree, Defendants use the pretext of a ‘fact-check’ to affix disparaging labels to the content, or to expressly mischaracterize the content, even when Defendants know that none of the facts underlying the content are false,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook did not identify a single inaccurate claim within the videos and also claims that they apparently didn’t even review one of the videos flagged at all.
When Stossel attempted to challenge Facebook’s decision, he was told one of the videos was flagged because the “fact-checkers” didn’t like the “tone.” After the videos were flagged, the lawsuit states, Stossel’s “viewership plummeted due to both Facebook’s censorship and the reputational harm caused by the false labels.”
The lawsuit states:
“Defendants defamed Stossel, with malice. First, they attributed to Stossel a claim he did not make, and which caused his viewers to shun him. Defendants made this false attribution recklessly, before they had even reviewed his video. And even after Stossel brought the issue to Defendants’ attention, Defendants refused to correct their speech, and intentionally left the false attribution online for anyone to see, where it remains today.”
“Then, Defendants falsely labeled Stossel’s second video report as having failed a ‘fact- check’ and stated that it contained ‘factual inaccuracies’ and was ‘partly false.’ Defendants applied these labels, knowing full well that Stossel’s content contained not a single false fact, and despite the concession by Defendants’ own scientist reviewer that no ‘specific facts’ in the report were ‘wrong.’”
“Defendants’ statements are provably false, inherently damaging to Stossel, and were made either with a reckless disregard for their truth or falsity, or with knowledge of their falsity.”
“With this lawsuit, Stossel asks the Court to declare that Defendants are not permitted to hide behind the masquerade of a ‘fact-check’ to defame him with impunity, and that they must make him whole for the damage they have maliciously caused by their provably false and disparaging statements about his reporting.”
In an op-ed for the New York Post, Stossel wrote that as a private company, Facebook can censor speech but it is not allowed to defame users.
“I want Facebook to learn that censorship — especially sloppy, malicious censorship, censorship without any meaningful appeal process — is NOT the way to go. The world needs more freedom to discuss things, not less,” Stossel wrote.
RT reported that Facebook has admitted it will “fact-check” opinion pieces stating “presented as opinion bust is based on underlying false information — even if it’s an op-ed or editorial — [is] still eligible to be fact-checked.”
Could this be why Facebook was voted the “worst company of 2021” according to a recent poll?
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