In a court filing defending itself from defamation charges, Facebook said that its “fact-checks” are merely statements of opinion rather than statements of fact, said Meta’s lawyers according to the filings made available at Wattsupwiththat.com.
The filings come as journalist John Stossel sues Facebook and its parent company Meta for defamation, after labeling Stossel’s stories about climate alarmism “false and misleading.”
Stossel explained the rationale behind the suit.
“Facebook is a private company. It has every right to cut me off,” said Stossel in announcing the lawsuit. “But Facebook does not have the right to just lie about me, yet that’s exactly what Facebook and its ‘fact-checker’ did. That’s defamation, and it’s just wrong.”
Facebook has tried to rebut the allegations of defamation, claiming that its fact-checks are merely opinions, thus protected under the Constitution.
“In its response to Stossel’s defamation claim,” reported Wattsupwiththat, “Facebook responds on Page 2, Line 8 in the court document… that Facebook cannot be sued for defamation (which is making a false and harmful assertion) because its ‘fact checks’ are mere statements of opinion rather than factual assertions.”
Although Facebook claims that its third-party fact check system has stringent guidelines that prevent bias, critics have charged that fact checks have just been used to suppress alternative views.
In fact, the fact-checkers are first vetted by the Poynter Institute, which is funded by a Who’s Who of liberal activists, including the founder of Craigslist, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Lumina Foundation, and the Washington Post.
But by using third-parties to make assessments of “facts,” Facebook and Meta hope to have it both ways.
“Facebook enjoys immunity from legal liability because it claims to be a tech platform for others’ content, not a journalistic enterprise, but it and [its fact-checkers] are acting like a publisher,” said John Tierney in the New York Post.
A publisher of opinion pieces that are protected by claims that they are also facts on the one hand and opinions on the other.
“Such ‘fact checks’ are now shown to be simply an agenda to suppress free speech and the open discussion of science by disguising liberal media activism as something supposedly factual, noble, neutral, trustworthy, and based on science,” said Wattsupwiththat after the newest court revelations.