Conservatives react with scepticism and alarm to Facebook's war on 'fake news'

GettyImages 165537758Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Conservatives reacted with alarm to Facebook’s announcement that it will partner with fact-checkers to combat so-called fake news, expressing extreme scepticism the fact-checking will be applied equally to both sides of the political spectrum.

The social-media giant said Thursday it would draw on an international fact-checking network led by Poynter, a nonprofit school for journalism, to label and bury “fake news” in the news feed. Such outlets included Snopes, ABC News, and the Associated Press.

But the announcement was immediately met with fire from the right.

“Fact-checkers all seem to be from the left,” tweeted Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist. “Not good for conservatives.”

Other conservatives quickly agreed, hammering Facebook for the move.

“This is a disaster for news coverage,” wrote Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative and editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire. “It’s an attempt to restore gatekeepers who have a bias as the ultimate arbiters of truth.”

RBPundit, an influential anonymous conservative blogger, published a series of tweets expressing strong concern.

“It’s going to be leftists reporting stories they don’t like and leftists ‘fact-checking’ these stories,” RBPundit wrote. “It’s a fraud.”

The blogger continued:

The sentiment seemed to be nearly universal across the conservative spectrum.

Charles Cooke, editor of National Review Online, the premier conservative news outlet for decades, told Business Insider in an email that he “agreed with everything” RBPundit said.

Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, reacted with three blunt words when he saw Facebook’s announcement: “OH HELL NO.”

“Facebook is bringing in Poynter/PolitiFact to police ‘fake news’? They’re INCREDIBLY biased,” he wrote.

Alex Griswold, a media reporter for Mediaite, piled on: “Snopes is great … 90% of the time.”

This was not the first time Facebook received criticism from conservatives over its handling of news that appears on its website.

Earlier this year, after Gizmodo reported members of Facebook’s Trending News team were biased against right-leaning news sources — a report Facebook disputed — the social-media company invited top conservatives to its California headquarters for a meeting with CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The subject of “fake news” has been discussed in the media since President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton. Some observers have suggested the prevalence of misleading or outright fake stories could have swayed some individuals to vote for the Republican real-estate mogul.

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