Last Updated on August 20, 2019
With the recent attack on the Babylon Bee by the supposed “fact-checking” site, we at the National File thought we should flashback to this story from December last year.
Several workers at Snopes became dismayed with the actions of Facebook, claiming that the social media giant “does not care about facts”, and that they were being paid to push “propaganda.”
Facebook partners with various “fact-checking” websites, like Snopes and Politifact, to debunk any “fake news” that appears on their site. You may have seen them before – they crop up just below a “debunked” post with a link to an article explain why what you just read wasn’t true. However, these sites are extremely partisan; it has been proven time and time again that they unduly target conservatives, often just for memes, and even genuine satirical websites, such as the Babylon Bee.
In an interview with the Guardian, Brooke Binkowski, a former managing editor of Snopes, vented her frustrations with Facebook:
They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR…They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.
Binkowski said that they were “thrown under the bus at every opportunity” by Facebook. When she realised that they were being forced to prioritise the correction of “misinformation” that affected Facebook’s advertisers, she was outraged. “You’re not doing journalism any more. You’re doing propaganda,” she said.
Another former Snopes employee, Kim LaCapria actually left the site because of the disgust she felt with the partnership with Facebook. She said it “felt really gross” to find out that Snopes was being payed by Facebook. “Facebook has one mission and factchecking websites should have a completely different mission,” she continued.
LaCapria also claimed that workers were not able to debunk falsehoods that Facebook were propagating. “We knew that if anything involved Facebook it was at risk of being compromised,” she recalled. “Most of us feel it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
Jay Greenberg of Neon Nettle explained that the way the “fact-checking” is done only adds to the problem:
If a post goes viral on social media, and Snopes says that it’s “false,” then it will be flagged as so and Facebook will place a link to the “fact-check,” thus driving more traffic and revenue to Snopes.Due to this arrangement, it adds a clear incentive to mark a viral news story as false rather than confirming lesser-known facts as true.
Not surprisingly, the article on Neon Nettle was labelled as “fake news” by Snopes on Facebook when this initialy broke, and quashed any chance that the story had of spreading.