The stunning admission about the nature of fact-checks was made by Meta in a court filing in a case brought against the social network by libertarian pundit John Stossel.
In a suit filed in September, Stossel claimed that Facebook and a third-party vendor defamed him, by labeling a video about wildfires he posted on his page. The label read: “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people,” and urged readers to click a button to “see why.” The link led to an explanation debunking a claim, which Stossel said he never made in his video.
Defending its fact-checking process before a US district court in California, Meta explained that the labels used by Facebook “are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion.” The same is true for the explanations that the labels link to, the filing argued.
The fact-checking industry has been booming amid increasing pressure on US-based tech giants to better police speech on their platforms, supposedly to curb political interference by malign actors and the spread of misinformation.
Facebook rules give it a pretty wide breadth of what should be fact-checked. Ironically, last year the social network made it clear that content which is “presented as opinion but is based on underlying false information – even if it’s an op-ed or editorial – [is] still eligible to be fact-checked.”
Meanwhile, even some of Meta’s own executives have reservations about the approach it has taken.
“Our ability to know what is misinformation is itself in question, and I think reasonably so,” Andrew Bosworth, who is set to become Meta’s CTO next year, said in an Axios on HBO interview.
This post was originally published on from Randy Rowe and can viewed here: https://newagora.ca/facebook-quietly-admits-in-court-filing-that-fact-checks-are-actually-just-opinion/