Facebook bizarrely claims its erroneous quote is an “opinion”
Facebook is a private company, so it can censor whoever it wants. But what Facebook is doing lately is just plain sordid.
Recently, I sued them because they defamed me. They, along with one of their “fact checkers,” a group called Science Feedback, have lied about me and continue to lie about me.
Now Facebook has responded to my legal action in court.
Surprisingly, their lawyers now claim that Facebook’s “fact checks” are only “opinions” and therefore immune to defamation.
Wait – Facebook’s fact checks are just “opinions” ?! I thought fact checks were statements of fact.
This is how Facebook presents them on its website: “Anytime a fact checker rates content as bogus, Facebook drastically reduces the distribution of the content. . . We . . . apply a warning label that links to the fact-checker article, refuting the claim. “
” Refuse. Of course, it looks like Facebook is claiming its labels are statements of fact.
Facebook’s “opinion” defense is similar to what Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow argued when they were sued. They said we are just giving opinions; our viewers knew that we are not sources of objective facts.
But Carlson and Maddow have a better point. They are known to give opinions. Facebook publishes “fact checks”.
I never said that!
The company, now called Meta, also asked a judge to dismiss my lawsuit “because section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects Meta from liability for material posted on the Facebook platform by some thirds”.
But it was Facebook, and not just a third party, that declared my posts “partly false”. The Facebook warning was created by Facebook and posted with the voice of Facebook.
As Facebook’s own website says, “Us. . . apply a warning label. . . “
I brought the defamation of Facebook to their attention a year ago, and they have done nothing to correct it.
I didn’t want to sue Facebook. I hate trials. But after they defamed me, I felt I had no choice.
How did Facebook defame me?
I made a video that said the forest fires in California were mostly caused by government mismanagement. Facebook censored this as “misleading”. They linked to a Science Feedback article that puts the following sentence in quotation marks, as if it were something I was saying: “Forest fires are caused by mismanagement. Not by climate change.
But I never said that!
Facebook critics took this quote from someone else. Or maybe they just made it up?
In my video, I admit: “Climate change has made things worse! I just argued that the government’s mismanagement was a bigger factor. Climate change has affected many forests, but well-managed forests have fared much better.
I asked all of the Science Feedback reviewers about their “misleading” label. Two have accepted on-camera interviews. When I asked what was misleading in my video, they surprised me by saying that they hadn’t even watched my video! They offered no defense for posting words in quotes that I had never said.
I warned Facebook. No chance.
Facebook’s refusal to admit its mistake hurts me because when Facebook checks something, its algorithm makes sure that fewer people see that video.
It hurt me. But I hate trials, so I didn’t sue.
The wrong “tone”
Then Facebook struck again.
They declared a video I made about the climate ‘crisis’ partly bogus. This video, “Are we doomed”, said that climate change is real, but suggests that we can adapt to it, as Holland did. This video has received 24 million views on Facebook. But after this second slander on Facebook, the number of viewers stopped.
The views of my other videos on Facebook have also declined. I still get millions of views through YouTube, Rumble, etc., but I used to get most of my views on Facebook. No more.
I asked a reviewer from Science Feedback what was wrong with my video on the climate crisis, and he admitted that he and his other fact-checkers couldn’t find any incorrect facts. Instead, they just didn’t like my tone.
“The problem is the omission of contextual information rather than specific erroneous ‘facts’,” he said.
What? It’s good if people don’t like my tone. But Facebook declares my post “partly false,” a term it defines on its website to include “factual inaccuracies.”
My video does not contain factual inaccuracies. Again, I reported it to Facebook. But that didn’t change anything.
I want Facebook to learn that censorship – especially sloppy and malicious censorship, censorship without any meaningful appeals process – is NOT the way to go.
The world needs more freedom to discuss things, not less.
Journalist John Stossel is the founder of Stossel TV.