Discover more from The Pulse
British Medical Journal Editor-In-Chief Calls Out "Incompetent" Facebook “Fact Checkers”
The editor-in-chief of The British Medical Journal (BMJ), Fiona Godlee, alongside Kamran Abbasi, an executive editor of the BMJ who will succeed Godlee on January 1st 2022, published a piece in the journal criticizing Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook "fact checkers." The piece was published on the 2nd of November.
In it, Godlee and Abbasi criticize Facebook for putting a "fake news" label on an article published in the British Medical Journal by award winning investigative journalist Paul Thacker, who was commissioned by the BMJ to write up a story about a former employee of Ventavia named Brook Jackson. Ventavia is a contract research company that helped carry out the main Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial for adults.
The BMJ commissioned Thacker to do so because in September, Jackson began providing The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails.
Godlee and Abbasi explain,
"These materials revealed a host of poor clinical trial research practices occurring at Ventavia that could impact data integrity and patient safety. We also discovered that, despite receiving a direct complaint about these problems over a year ago, the FDA did not inspect Ventavia’s trial sites."
Godlee and Abbasi go on to explain what many in the business of sharing credible information have been experiencing before and during this pandemic,
"Readers began reporting a variety of problems when trying to share our article. Some reported being unable to share it. Many others reported having their posts flagged with a warning about “Missing context ... Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share “false information” might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed. Group administrators where the article was shared received messages from Facebook informing them that such posts were “partly false.”
This is something that's plagued information sharing during this entire pandemic, and prior to it. In fact, an article published in the BMJ by journalist Laurie Clarke has highlighted the fact that Facebook has already removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform, and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube has removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”
They even removed The Pulse's YouTube channel as automated 'strikes' claimed our content went against their community guidelines, which it verifiably did not.
Readers of Thacker's BMG article were directed to a "fact check" performed by Facebook independent contractor Lead Stories, a self proclaimed fact checking website. Abbasi and Godlee explain how the fact check is completely "inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible" and "fails to provide any assertions of fact that the BMJ article is wrong."
Lead Stories inaccurately labelled the BMJ a "news blog" when it's one of the most reputable medical journals on the planet, and the "fact check" contained a screenshot of the BMJ article with a stamp over it stating "Flaws Reviewed." The article by lead stories was even published under a URL that contains the phrase "hoax-alert."
"We have contacted Lead Stories, but they refuse to change anything about their article or actions that have led to Facebook flagging our article. We have also contacted Facebook directly, requesting immediate removal of the “fact checking” label and any link to the Lead Stories article, thereby allowing our readers to freely share the article on your platform.
There is also a wider concern that we wish to raise. We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime.
Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task. Fact checking has been a staple of good journalism for decades. What has happened in this instance should be of concern to anyone who values and relies on sources such as The BMJ."
At The Pulse, and prior to at Collective Evolution, we've dealt with a number of fact checkers. Lead Stories has always been amongst the worst in quality of information and rarely understand the issues they are 'fact checking.' It's nearly impossible to have a dialogue with them let alone reason with them. Most of their "fact checks" do not make any sense.
You can view more examples from The Pulse here.
Welcome to the age of censorship, where we now have an authoritarian Orwellian "fact-checker" patrolling the internet in an attempt to tell people what is and what isn't true. Should people not have the right to view information and evidence openly and freely and decide for themselves what they choose to believe? This is nothing less than thought control and perception manipulation/management. It's happening with regards to all things COVID that call into question measures that governments and health authorities are taking around the world to combat the virus.
The good news is that those who haven't been in the business of independent media are now becoming aware of just how bad this problem has become. As a result of this awareness, more people and organizations, like the BMJ, are trying to do something about it.