Facebook is about the fact-checking, with the exception of obviously when it enables lawmakers to lie and, you know, influence the course of the democratic system. That was clarified in the Netherlands, where a paper called Nu.nl simply quit as Facebook’s fact-checking partner in the Netherlands. “What is the point of fighting fake news if you are not allowed to tackle politicians?” NU.nl‘s editor-in-chief Gert-Jaap Hoekman asked in a blog post. “Let one thing be clear: we stand behind the content of our fact checks.”
The issue began when NU.nl named a promotion from Dutch lawmaker Esther de Lange as false, saying it couldn’t be confirmed. Facebook then stepped in, telling the paper that a government official’s discourse couldn’t be fact checked. Facts are not a type of activism.
While Facebook’s advertising rules don’t permit falsehood, it officially excluded legislators from this standard in September. “From now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard,” wrote Facebook VP Nick Clegg.
This strategy infuriated critics, especially after promotions showed up on Facebook from President Trump’s 2020 advertisement campaign rehashing exposed paranoid fears about Ukraine. Significantly after Twitter said it would never again permit political advertisements on the stage, Facebook didn’t move from its position.
NU.nl turned into the main Facebook fac- checker in the Netherlands after another group, Leiden University, hauled out a year ago. It said it had just gotten uncomfortable with Facebook’s position on political promotions, and chose to end the partnership when Facebook wouldn’t change its situation on the de Lange advertisement.
“We value the work that Nu.nl has done and regret to see them go, but respect their decision as an independent business,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge. “We have strong relationships with 55 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 45 languages, and we plan to continue expanding the program in Europe and hopefully in the Netherlands.”
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