Facebook Fact-Checker Has Not Fact-Checked Its Own COVID Misinformation

December 7th, 2020 2:01 PM

A fact-checking website may not even be able to properly check the facts in its own articles when the facts don’t line up with its narrative. 

FactCheck.org, which  partners with Facebook to fact-check articles and social media posts, has not corrected a January article that provides incorrect information regarding the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in China. 

A recent report from CNN revealed that China had underreported the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early days of what was then considered to be an “epidemic.”

FactCheck attempted early on to combat reports that claimed that there were “thousands” or “10,000” people that had already died from COVID-19 in China. The website reported on January 27 that the “number of confirmed cases of the virus worldwide numbered 2,886.” The website said that it got this number from “sources such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and China’s National Health Commission.” By February 10, according to the CNN report, China had reported 3,911 total cases of COVID-19. However, the internal documents CNN acquired revealed 5,918 total cases.

The fact-checker relied partially on information from the communist Chinese government in order to determine its statistics, and since then, has not made any effort to adjust the numbers to account for new information. 

Although FactCheck.org had little to go on other than China’s self-reporting during the early stages of what became the global pandemic we all know and hate, its lack of curiosity and cynism of so-called facts from a nation that puts Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in concentration camps is disturbing.

FactCheck.org also reported that the Hubei province in China “has so far reported 76 deaths” from COVID-19, but CNN’s report stated that “the leaked documents show the daily confirmed death toll in Hubei rose to 196 on February 17. That same day, Hubei publicly reported just 93 virus deaths.” 

While the data provided by the CNN report does not reflect deaths in China upwards of 10,000, the report does make plain communist China’s willingness to lie about the numbers to the detriment of public health. 

This is not the first time that FactCheck.org has demonstrated bias in its articles. In March, FactCheck.org marked a video of former Vice President Joe Biden saying, “We can only re-elect Trump,” as “deceptively edited.” The fact-checker site concluded that “The president’s son also included some laughter emojis, perhaps suggesting that Biden – who is known for gaffes – had accidentally endorsed Trump.” 

We rate FactCheck.org’s analysis of the COVID-19 death count in China “mostly false.” 

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