Robin Smith / Feb. 22, 2021

‘Fact-Checkers’ Turned Dolly Parton Into Mel Gibson

This is nothing more than censorship at its most inept, but it only seems to hurt one side.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, censored the article written in this space last week about Dolly Parton’s Super Bowl ad that encouraged Americans to use their passions and talents for a side job. When Instagram’s “fact-checker” offered an explanation for the blocked content, it was deemed “false” because — wait for it — Mel Gibson had not said Hollywood “is an institutionalized pedophile ring.” No, that’s not a typographical error.

That’s right. A post about Dolly Parton and the “woke” crowd — featuring a photo of Parton — went through the sausage-making “fact-check” formula of Big Tech and was reviewed as a post about pedophilia. Evidently, this algorithm uses some method that finds key words, phrases, and sources and automatically deems content as “guilty” with no recourse for the average person or regard for truth. Posts get screened or censored while exposing the fault line of Big Tech’s random process. Big Tech is too big and reaching too far … and pitifully, for money, some on the Center-Right are helping.

In its efforts to review and control content, Facebook/Instagram uses six of the 62 third-party organizations “certified by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN),” as reported by Vox in May 2019. One of those six — CheckYourFact.com — is owned by The Daily Caller’s cofounder and principal owner, Neil Patel. Fox News host Tucker Carlson is also a cofounder but sold his 30% share in The Daily Caller in the summer of 2020.

On its website, the Daily Caller’s for-profit fact-checking entity declares its mission: “Our job is to independently fact check statements by influencers, as well as reporting by other news outlets. … Our mission is a non-partisan one. … We exist to fill in the gaps.” Check Your Fact is a for-profit subsidiary owned by The Daily Caller, Inc. and is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles.

Mark Zuckerberg’s massive social media platforms made a calculated move to employ an entity with conservative credentials to allay not just their fake-news problem but also their problem with conservatives who use the two giant platforms. The conservative publication’s “fact-checker” began working with the Zuckerberg enterprise in 2017. Conservatives should not be surprised that left-leaning corporations like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are censoring their content. We should, however, be unhappy and vocal in our opposition to see the exact same outcomes from a group whose base is the conservative Right.

After our post last week was blocked, an email was sent to one of CheckYourFact.com’s editors, Aislinn Murphy, along with a voicemail message explaining the situation. Murphy, to her credit, responded rapidly, likely because the post and inquiry were made by a citizen legislator. Facebook/Instagram has a policy not to block content of those who are elected, according to Poynter, the certifying body of these fact-checking entities.

While Ms. Murphy did respond by noting, “The posts appear to have been erroneously rated through Facebook’s automatic system,” the fact remains that the algorithm is assumed correct and the post is assumed offensive or false. Moreover, unless you’re an elected official, it’s likely to remain blocked.

Those who keep rewriting history as they redefine the definition of life, liberty, and happiness are the very ones now entrusted to check facts. That’s how a post about an American icon and hard work was blocked due to claims that it was about an erroneous institutionalized pedophilia ring. How long will social media platforms be allowed to magnify an approved message while silencing or stifling another? Aren’t Americans tired of the various standards that permit posts that border on the indecent and pornographic while blocking content that upholds rational thinking, moral actions, and family structure because it angers the political Left?

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