A new investigation has revealed that Meta — the company that owns social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Threads — has been violating its own rules and employing partisan activists as fact-checkers.
The effort has resulted in social media fact-checking being abused in order to censor, shadow ban, and throttle the pages of certain news outlets who cover topics in a way that is disfavored by progressives.
Sky News Australia has published an exposé showing that tech giant Meta is “non-compliant with its own rules of impartiality and transparency,” using front organizations to silence news coverage to influence politics.
“Revelations contained in this investigation raise questions about Meta’s global fact checking operation which appears to have been hijacked by activists,” Sky News says.
According to the investigation, Meta inked a secret commercial contract directly with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), allowing the fact-checking unit to be paid up to $740,000 a year from an Irish Meta subsidiary.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, has insisted the company maintains an arm’s length relationship with fact checkers, and says that the platform is policed by the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). However, RMIT’s certification with IFCN expired last December, “leaving the operation free to censor Australian journalism with no oversight at all,” the report states.
“Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has been allowed by Facebook parent company Meta to block & deplatform Australian journalism, despite the platform knowing it was a breach of the rules Zuckerberg established to distance himself from fact checking responsibilities” pic.twitter.com/2SPPIAgraO
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) August 23, 2023
As per the contract between the university and Meta, there are strict clauses allowing Meta to dissolve the agreement if RMIT ever loses certification. The company, though aware the certification has expired, refuses to do so.
“The university used the powers Facebook has given it to throttle Sky News Australia’s Facebook page with false fact checks multiple times this year, breaching the Meta-endorsed IFCN Code of Principles and preventing millions of Australians from reading or watching Sky News Australia’s journalism,” according to the report.
REIT “has been allowed by Facebook parent company Meta to block and deplatform Australian journalism, despite the platform knowing it was a breach of the rules Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg established to distance himself from fact checking responsibilities,” the report says.
REIT is also said to have used Facebook’s internal systems to de-rank journalism with which it disagrees.