Journalist fact-checkers who signed up for a controversial partnership with social media giant Facebook to combat fake news are abandoning ship citing ethical concerns and shady practices.
The fact-checkers became disillusioned with Facebook after the company ignored requests for meaningful data that showed the impact of the anti-fake news initiatives. Participating journalists anecdotally reported minimal results and Facebook allegedly did nothing to assuage their concerns.
Facebook began courting journalists and roughly 40 media partners, including AP, Snopes, and Politifact for the project in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential elections but despite the noble intentions and lofty goals, research and anecdotal evidence suggest the debunking had little effect. Facebook’s hiring of the Definers PR firm to smear critics was the final straw for many disillusioned do-gooders.
“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, said to the Guardian. “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 went one step further, accusing the platform of spreading its own fake news and pressuring debunkers to help Facebook’s advertising partners.
"Hacking humanity" sort of looks a lot like fucking lying to me https://t.co/qdjOlMGbVW
— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) December 13, 2018
“I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model,” Binkowski said. “I was bringing up Myanmar over and over and over… They were absolutely resistant.”'
Read more: Not journalism but propaganda: Fact-checkers turn on Facebook for spreading its own fake news