When Facebook said it was getting its shit together to do a better job of preventing the spread of false news after the 2016 election, this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.
Facebook has added CheckYourFact.com to the already-crumbling list of its independent Poynter-certified fact checkers that identify and debunk false news stories shared on the website, Axios reported on Wednesday. CheckYourFact.com is better known as the “fact-check department” of the right-wing website the Daily Caller, co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
The site itself has run right-wing propaganda and misinformation about a variety of people and topics, such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and employed an editor who wrote for white nationalist Richard Spencer at the same time. It also published work from Jason Kessler, leader of the fatal “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. (The post has since been removed from the site.)
While the “Check Your Fact” arm says it’s a non-partisan, for-profit subsidiary of the Daily Caller—and calls itself the “fact checking department” of the site in its Twitter bio—it’s certainly alarming that an offshoot of a website spreading anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic messaging is now in charge of ensuring that such baseless biases and false reports aren’t impacting Facebook users.
Facebook, however, has taken a very “it’s out of my hands” approach with the addition of Check Your Fact. According to the Guardian, a Facebook spokesperson noted that any news organization can apply to be a fact-checker under the condition of becoming certified under the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, run by Poynter, the journalism ethics non-profit. Poynter, however, didn’t reply to the Guardian’s request for comment.
David Sivak, editor of Check Your Fact, insisted to the Guardian that the site’s articles fact checks “fair, in-depth and hold figures on both sides of the political aisle accountable, including Trump.” Right now, one of the three top stories on the website investigates, “FACT CHECK: IS ‘BEETLEJUICE II’ COMING TO THEATERS?”
2020 Facebook is going to be fantastic.