Stung by complaints from liberals about the recent election, Facebook has announced that it will begin to try to weed out “fake news” from its platform. This is pretty significant, given the volume of communication that takes place on Facebook. Until now, the company has insisted that it is merely a technological platform, not an editor. Henceforth, Facebook will assume, on at least a limited basis, editorial duties.
Starting as a test with a small percentage of its users in the US, Facebook will make it easier to report news stories that are fake or misleading. Once third-party fact-checkers have confirmed that the story is fake, it will be labeled as such and demoted in the News Feed.
Who are these third-party fact checkers? Snopes, Factcheck.org, ABC News, and PolitiFact. PolitiFact and Factcheck.org are blatantly liberal operations; both can fairly be regarded as appendages of the Democratic Party. This does not bode well for Facebook’s initiative.
Facebook users will have an option to label a post as one containing “fake news”:
It isn’t hard to foresee what will happen. As on Twitter, conservatives will follow a live-and-let-live approach, while liberals will aggressively try to drive competing ideas out of circulation. Given the biased sources that will be used as fact-checkers, the result will be to give Facebook a more liberal tinge.
Facebook says that it intends to go after only “the worst of the worst,” “clear hoaxes” spread by “spammers.” If it sticks to that resolution, perhaps no harm will be done. But my guess is that before long, a flood of “fake news” flags by liberals against posts they don’t agree with will overwhelm the ability of Facebook’s third-party fact checkers to respond. Worse, left-wing outlets like PolitiFact and Factcheck.org likely will seize the opportunity to begin censoring conservative commentary on the Facebook platform. If that happens, lots of people will be unhappy.