Last Updated on September 28, 2020
Facebook fact checker Lead Stories, founded in part by former-CNN employee Alan Duke, claims that the Ohio woman arrested watching her son play football was not arrested for repeatedly refusing to wear a face mask at the outside event, but instead was arrested because when she refused to wear a mask she was told to leave or face trespassing charges.
An Ohio mother was arrested at her child’s middle school football game for refusing to wear a face mask, with police tasing her and grabbing her forcefully away from the scene.
On the original story, National File reported:
The pair then awkwardly slide down the bench as the officer tries pinning his quarry to the bleacher seat as she yells, “Stop it, let go of my breast?”
“This is over a mask?” someone in the background asks, and someone else answers in the affirmative.
A taser crackles between the struggling pair, and the mother screams and slumps down, as the officer can be seen pressing the non-lethal weapon into her shoulder.
Facebook-approved Fact Checker Lead Stories, who National File exposed as being founded by a former CNN-employee and a man who was hired by the State Department to instruct international fact checkers to how to fight “misinformation and propaganda,” is placing a fact check claim on news articles, videos, and posts about the arrest.
While Lead Stories correctly points out that the woman was technically arrested on trespassing charges, she was told she was trespassing for refusing to wear a mask outside at a sporting event.
Mark Sidney, the founder of pro-free speech social media platform Spreely.com, a portmanteau of Speak Freely, says some conservatives believe this type of fact check can be used to censor a story that Facebook or Lead Stories simply does not like.
“Many feel Facebook is laundering their censorship of certain opinions through third parties they call Fact checkers,” Sidney told National File. “It seems like people with certain ideologies are having their content scrutinized to a much higher degree while some do not have the validity of their news articles considered by Facebook fact checkers at all.”
Sidney went on to explain his role the role of individual Facebook users, bloggers, and independent journalists in the current media landscape.
“Something like 91% of the media coverage of Trump was negative in the 2016 campaign. That leaves it to individual bloggers and independent journalists and opinion writers to cover the other side of the story,” Sidney said. “It feels like those people presenting a narrative contrary to the legacy media narrative are under a much higher level of scrutiny from so-called ‘fact checkers.'”
“I can’t speak to their motivations, but I know many conservative publishers feel targeted and have seen their distribution decline greatly.”
According to Facebook, an independent fact checker has the power to limit the reach of any article deemed to be less than accurate or truthful. Sidney suggests that this power could be abused by partisans to instead limit the speech of their political opponents and the distribution of stories that question their political beliefs.
“Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube could have controlled the social media markets for the rest of time if they had continued to give people what they want, but a lot of people feel like their feed has been socially engineered through certain world view rather than designed to give them the best possible user experience,” said Sidney. “This is why, I think, people are coming to Parler, Bitchute, and our new website, Spreely, to create a safe haven for speech.”
Lead Stories has a history of fact checking conservative satirical websites and stories, including several by the Babylon Bee.