In an exclusive interview with the Media Research Center, newly appointed Facebook Oversight Co-Chairman Michael McConnell, said he would like to "audit" Facebook's controversial fact-checkers.
“I think of Plato’s Republic: who’s guarding the guardians? Who’s fact-checking the fact-checkers is a question for our age,” he told the MRC. Facebook had partnered with the liberal, Soros-funded Poynter Institute’s project, the International Fact-Checking Network, (IFCN) to find third-party fact-checkers. Those fact-checkers rule whether posts and links are “false.”
Eight of the current partners are left-leaning, while only one, Check Your Fact, is conservative. McConnell, a Stanford Law professor who previously served as a federal circuit judge stated, “I don’t think we can ever plan to do an item by item fact-checking the fact-checkers, but what I would like to do is set up the balance for a kind of audit.”
The audit would look at a randomly selected set of fact-checks and determine whether or not the fact-checkers had done their job. McConnell said that the board would “see whether they stand up to scrutiny.”
Fact-checkers have been widely criticized by the conservative movement for unfair and biased analysis. Previously, the Media Research Center had released a report that found that one of Facebook’s fact-checkers, Lead Stories, slammed right-leaning posts and news stories four times more than it did left-leaning posts and news stories. Lead Stories is run by eight former CNN employees.
McConnell referenced the problem with fact-checking, saying, “A lot of the problem with fact-checking is where they confuse opinion with fact. Differences of opinion isn’t something that can be factually refuted, and that is where the board will be able to get into it quite early.”
When a piece is fact-checked, an interstitial, or filter, is placed across the post itself, warning readers that they are about to see information that has been labeled “false.” However, the page also suffers from a limited outreach in response to the fact-check, until that piece is removed.
Healthfeedback.org also threatened an entire pro-life organization, Live Action, based on the statement that “Abortion is never medically necessary.” The fact-check included opinions from Dr. Daniel Grossman, who was a consultant for Planned Parenthood. Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, was told that her page’s reach would be “limited.” The IFCN opened an investigation into the fact-check, and Facebook removed the fact-check.