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In yet another sign that we are in fact now all dead and inhabiting Stupid Hell, Facebook has contracted with a fact-checking company owned by the Daily Caller. How will this affect the reliability of the news you see on Facebook? Fuck if we know, because despite its efforts to convince people it cares about fighting fake news, Facebook remains a cesspit. Just about the best thing we can say about this development is that "Check Your Fact," the fact-checking subsidiary of Tucker Carlson's Home for Scared Whitefolk, has a completely separate staff from the mothership, so there's that very, very small favor.

The fact-checking partnership was originally reported by Axios, which actually manages to provide a somewhat amusing read for a change, and yay Axios, some of the amusement appears intentional!


Of course, one of Axios's many "yes but" qualifiers is itself an exercise in rank both-siderism, because a second new fact-checking site evaluates science, which we all know is merely a matter of opinion:

Yes, but: Both of the outlets approved by the Board are considered by some to be partisan: CheckYourFact.com arguably leans right, as it's a for-profit subsidiary owned by The Daily Caller, Inc., although editorially independent. Science Feedback fact-checks news and information primarily based on whether it is rooted in science. Some conservatives disagree with this characterization, arguing climate change is not a settled science.

Those conservatives are factually wrong, but hey, big tent. Talk about crawling up an awful yes-butt.

Axios also points out that this was less a decision by Facebook than an artifact of the social media company's decision to outsource responsibility for certifying fact-checkers to the Poynter Institute's nonpartisan International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). Under the 2016 agreement between Facebook and Poynter, once the fact-checking network certifies an outfit that applies, Facebook has to use its services. Yes, even if the fact-checker is owned by an organization that is gross and lie-y. Here's why that's not supposed to worry you too much, at least in theory:

Poynter's International Fact-Checking Network is considered credible, and is used to enforce standards for fact-checking broadly, not just at Facebook.

-- The board is made up of well-known fact-checkers from around the world, including from the Washington Post and Poynter.
-- The IFCN board votes on certification of fact-checkers without any input from Facebook or other partners.
-- It looks at a set of criteria when reviewing fact-checking partners to be a part of its network, including non-partisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and more.

Nonetheless, that system has still allowed for some seriously dubious "fact checks," like that time the Weekly Standard labeled a ThinkProgress article about Brett Kavanaugh "false." As is often the case with bad fact-checking, the "false" label largely ignored the substance of a fairly complex article and decided the entire piece was worthless because the headline struck the Weekly Standard dickweeds as "misleading." Then the Weekly Standard went belly-up not long afterward and the issue became moot.

Now, it's possible that fact-checks done by Check Your Fact will be somewhat more reliable. For one thing, Check Your Fact was actually certified by Poynter/IFCN, while Facebook decided to contract with Weekly Standard even after Poynter found serious shortcomings in its fact-check branch. For "balance."

Then again, as the Guardian notes, the timing of this new partnership is awfully unfortunate for Facebook, huh?

This week, a Wired investigation on Facebook reported that a vice-president at the company had once argued that the Facebook newsfeed should treat the content from Daily Caller and Breitbart, another rightwing outlet, in the same manner as stories from mainstream news outlets.

Probably just an embarrassing coincidence, don't you think?

We took a quick look at Check Your Fact, and it didn't look too obviously terrible. Its front page has some nice, detailed debunking of internet memes, especially fake quotes. There's a piece noting that no, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never said a nasty thing about Ben Shapiro, and also Teddy Roosevelt never said, "To anger a liberal, tell him the truth."

Check Your Fact even seems able to handle some subtlety, albeit with a bit of a rightward slant. In an assessment of a Julián Castro tweet stating Donald Trump's healthcare agenda "has left millions more Americans uninsured since he took office," the site looks at a number of different assessments of how the number of people without insurance has changed, and notes that different methodologies result in different estimates. Fair enough. It's not terrible, but it makes only passing reference to Trump's attempts to sabotage the ACA, like this seemingly "neutral" description:

The Trump administration ended federal payments for cost-sharing reductions (CRSs), or discounts offered by insurers to reduce the cost of deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance for consumers, after it decided the payments were unlawful.

And more worrisome, the piece doesn't at all address the Congressional Budget Office's projection that ending CSRs would drive up premiums and lead to lower enrollment in Obamacare. So we'd hate to see a Wonkette piece on the uninsured rate get labeled "Unsubstantiated" based on that.

We were glad to see that, in our very limited scan, Check Your Fact appears far less intent on whipping up old folks into a frenzy over immigrants and socialism than the Daily Caller's main product. Also, would it be too much to ask for a "search" function that only brings up "Check Your Fact" articles? We tried the search bar and got a lot of links to the Daily Caller instead. No thanks!

Also, Facebook still sucks. Now watch this article get labeled "False" because of the illustration.

[Guardian / Axios / Wired / Check Your Fact]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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