Lone Conservative Fact-Checked and Censored by Lead Stories on Facebook

April 1st, 2020 6:43 PM

Third-party fact-checkers have the ability to cause pages on Facebook to be suppressed. These fact-checkers, who are paid by Facebook, are putting efforts into fact-checking satire and editorial cartoons. In other words — opinion.

Lone Conservative, a conservative media outlet designed for college students and recent graduates, was fact-checked by Lead Stories, an organization run by 8 CNN alumni. The Facebook page had posted a cartoon of bailout money being rolled into the Kennedy Center as money was being rolled out to the DNC. This was referencing the $25 million received from the coronavirus bailout that was given to the Kennedy Center.

The cartoon did not accuse the Kennedy Center of giving bailout money to the DNC. It was meant satirically. It was not a news story. It was a simple editorial cartoon.

An interstitial, or filter, was placed over the post with the label saying, “False Information[:] Checked by independent fact-checkers.” A “See Why” button led readers to a piece from Lead Stories, which initially had simply fact-checked an erroneous tweet where the Twitter user was unclear in posting about a hypothetical. Lone Conservative was not even mentioned in the fact-check.

Lone Conservative founder and president Kassy Dillon posted the fact-check to Twitter, saying “This cartoon is satire. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, obviously.” Lone Conservative could not risk being penalized by Facebook, so the post was removed because of the fact-check.

Dillon told the Media Research Center, “We are an organization and publication by and for students. For this reason, we try to reach out to younger people with humorous memes and cartoons. It’s quite ridiculous that Facebook has resorted to fact-checking satirical political cartoons.”

Lead Stories is a small organization that does the bulk of the fact-checking for Facebook, according to former editor in chief of ThinkProgress Judd Legum. The fact-check outlet claims to only fact-check satire and not reduce it’s spread. However, this did not seem to apply to Lone Conservative’s post.

Ironically, Lead Stories has also written its own satire. In the past, for April Fools, the outlet published a handful of satirical pieces.