Leaks Renew Concern Over Facebook's Fact-Checking Sway | RealClearPolitics

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This week the Wall Street Journal unveiled "The Facebook Files" – an investigative series based on leaked internal Facebook materials that offer an...
unvarnished look at how the social media giant sees its platform and its impact on society. A central theme of the reporting is the degree to which Facebook's own research is at odds with its public statements, and that internally it has recognized the harms the platform causes for society even while publicly touting its benefits.

The Journal's reporting raises myriad concerns over the state of social platforms generally today, from Instagram's toxic influence on teenage girls to the impact of algorithmic changes on political discourse to how Facebook secretly shields influential users from its content moderation rules.

Given the growing influence of fact-checkers as the ultimate arbitrators of "truth" in the digital world, the Journal also reported that their verdicts may not be as independent as publicly portrayed: "Facebook has asked fact-checking partners to retroactively change their findings on posts from high-profile accounts."

Asked by RealClearPolitics how many times it has intervened in fact-checking verdicts and under what circumstances it asks fact-checkers to change their rulings, a Facebook spokesperson did not answer, pointing instead to its generic fact-checking FAQ. Asked if the company would deny on the record having ordered a fact-checking partner to change a verdict, the company did not respond.

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which has established the set of standards to which most major fact-checkers adhere, did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding whether it was aware of any of its signatories receiving and/or honoring requests from Facebook to change their verdicts.

Asked whether PolitiFact had ever received a request from Facebook to change one of its verdicts, if it had ever acquiesced and if it is aware of such requests to other fact-checkers, its executive director, Aaron Sharockman, responded that it is in the midst of "fact-finding." Asked whether PolitiFact could at least confirm that it itself…
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