Last Updated on January 5, 2022
Facebook’s top fact checking partner, Lead Stories, is run by editor-in-chief Alan Duke, who worked as a journalist at CNN for 26 years.
Duke has dozens of articles fact checking popular Facebook memes and satirical articles from The Babylon Bee.
In one such article, Duke claims that even though a meme correctly posits that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) did say that white people do not know what it is like to be poor, the meme is “fake news.”
Duke reports that 70 per cent of those below the poverty line are minorities, and that the meme is “fake news” because it is misleading.
However, basic math would seem to indicate that 30 per cent of those beneath the poverty line are white, and thus, know what it is like to be poor.
In another article, Duke’s Lead Stories fact checks a popular Internet meme surrounding comedian Sam Hyde.
To participate in the meme, Internet users claim Hyde is a shooter whenever the media reports on the still-unknown identity of a mass shooter.
Duke’s publication made sure his readers knew that Hyde was not the shooter in the Nicetown, Philadelphia mass shooting.
The website heralded by the ex-CNN journalist also fact checked a briefly popular Internet meme that originated on 4chan, the “Fashtag,” which claimed, as part of a trolling campaign, that the hashtag was a white supremacist symbol meaning Heil Hitler.
Finally, Duke fact checked the Internet meme suggesting that if President Donald Trump were successfully impeached, it would allow Vice President Mike Pence to name President Trump as his vice president, then resign, thereby returning President Trump to the Oval Office. The concept was originally presented as a joke.
This “meme” was in the form of a likely comedic shirt worn by a woman, written as a dictionary definition for the word “Trumpeached.”
In other words, the meme was clearly fictitious, as no dictionary source found by National File offers a definition for the word “Trumpeached.”
Duke and Lead Stories also frequently fact check Christian satire website, The Babylon Bee. This is despite Facebook’s claim that they will not fact check satire websites or opinion articles, and will not negatively impact the Facebook engagement or reach of those websites as a result of fact checking.
Most recently, Duke wrote a scathing article titled “Fake News; Democrats Did NOT Call For Flags To Be Flown At Half-Mast To Grieve Death Of Soleimani” in response to a Babylon Bee article by the same name.
In another attempt to fact check satire, Duke explains that President Trump is not going to air unedited footage from the Democratic debates as campaign advertising, after Babylon Bee published a satirical article claiming the campaign would use the Democrats’ performance for such purposes.
Another Lead Stories article explains that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) did not really ask, “If Israel Is So Innocent, Why Do They Insist On Being Jews?”
Yet another article explains that Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has famously touched and sniffed seemingly dozens of women and children in awkward photographs and videos, did not really become the new head of the Transportation Security Administration charged with scanning and, if necessary, patting down travelers in airports.
Another article informs readers that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) did not really have her economics degree revoked.
Perhaps most comically, Lead Stories also felt it necessary to inform readers that Jussie Smollett, who famously orchestrated a hate hoax in Chicago blaming Trump supporters for a phony attempted lynching, did not receive an award from the NAACP.
There appear to be dozens of more articles on Lead Stories fact checking opinion pieces.
Considering Facebook’s policy against fact checking opinion, there would seem to be no reason for its appointed fact checking partner to conduct these searches.
Mark Sidney, a conservative opinion blogger who also runs competing social network Spreely, told National File that “Facebook is perhaps inadvertently creating a moral hazard where fact checkers, including Lead Stories, are incentivized to be overzealous.”
“Any time they fact check an article, Facebook adds a disclaimer that allows the fact checker to obtain the reach and distribution of the original content and redirect the traffic to their site,” added Sidney, “Which sustains itself off ad revenue based off the amount of traffic that they receive.”
“They have the ability to supersede viral posts and redirect the traffic to their website which funds them,” added Sidney.