Facebook ‘fact-checkers’ flag LifeSiteNews for giving dissenting COVID info a platform
October 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook has flagged at least four recent LifeSiteNews articles pertaining to COVID-19 for alleged “false information” because they contradict the conclusions of left-leaning “fact-checking” websites and the embattled World Health Organization (WHO).
When posted to LifeSite’s Facebook page, the four articles – “How a false hydroxychloroquine narrative was created, and more”; “Report: Other countries faring better against COVID due to hydroxychloroquine, not lockdowns”; “CDC director insists masks will save us from COVID. Evidence suggests otherwise”; and “Scientist who fled China: Chinese Communists ‘intentionally’ released ‘Frankenstein’ COVID-19” – are given disclaimers that followers must click through before accessing the link, which claim “independent fact-checkers say this information has no basis in fact” and link to articles purporting to debunk them.
Many Facebook users posting other LifeSiteNews articles now receive a warning that they’re sharing from a source that has been marked as “fake news” by “fact-checkers.”
The “fact-checks” do not dispute the accuracy of LifeSite’s representation of the statements covered in the aforementioned articles (in fact, only one of the “fact-checks” was written in direct response to LifeSite), but rather dispute the statements themselves, in effect objecting to the fact that LifeSite gave them space to be heard.
Facebook’s “fact-checking” partners take issue with three general positions: that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is effective at treating COVID-19 (Lead Stories, Health Feedback), that masks are ineffective at preventing COVID-19 (Health Feedback), and that COVID-19 may have been created in a Chinese lab (PolitiFact, Health Feedback).
Regarding HCQ, the “fact-checkers” note that the author of the Economic Standard white paper LifeSite covered last month, Erik Sass, has no medical training (though he says he wrote it in “close collaboration with practicing physicians and infectious disease specialists from across the United States and around the world”), and cite studies and experts that have concluded the drug is ineffective against COVID-19.
However, Lead Stories does not delve into any of the numerous peer-reviewed studies Sass cites finding the opposite conclusion, but instead simply takes as authoritative Vanderbilt University COVID-19 researcher Dr. Wesley Self’s claim to have seen “no evidence whatsoever of it being useful.”
While Health Feedback goes into more detail, and argues that pro-HCQ studies “contain significant flaws,” it fails to mention that the same can be said of studies that agree with its position – such as a study published this summer in The Lancet, which was hailed as conclusive by numerous governments, health authorities, and media outlets worldwide before the prestigious journal was forced to retract it upon discovery that the company which supplied the data was very likely fraudulent.
Regarding masks, Health Feedback cites a handful of studies finding that cloth masks are effective at blocking respiratory droplets that can carry COVID-19, and argues it is fallacious to reject masks on the basis of COVID-19 particles being smaller than the pores in masks, because the respiratory droplets carrying those particles through the air are larger.
Once again, however, the “fact-checker” does not address other reasons to doubt the effectiveness of masks, such as the CDC’s September acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out the coronavirus when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases which “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”
Regarding Chinese virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s claim that the Chinese government “intentionally” created and released COVID-19, Health Feedback and PolitiFact claim that “scientific consensus” agrees the virus’s characteristics are consistent with viruses found in nature, and contradicts her conclusion that the virus is artificial. And while they admit the possibility of COVID-19 leaking from a lab can’t be ruled out, both “fact-checkers” also fault her for not presenting hard evidence of her allegations.
More to the point, however, Yan is not a third-party observer but a firsthand witness offering testimony of an alleged cover-up, which alone is newsworthy evidence (if not proof). She says her superiors at the University of Hong Kong warned her to “keep silent” about her findings or she would “be disappeared.”
She fled Hong Kong for the United States in April, and for her efforts has been abandoned by her husband, condemned as a “traitor” by her own parents, and fired by the University of Hong Kong. She says of the Chinese government, “if they find me, they will kill me.”
China expert and Population Research Institute (PRI) president Steven Mosher, who was also flagged by Facebook for reporting on Yan’s claims, noted the absurdity of complaining that Yan cannot provide a smoking gun for her claims in comments to LifeSiteNews back in April.
“Circumstantial evidence is all we have,” he pointed out. “That’s all there will ever be because the real evidence has been destroyed in a cover-up. The cover-up is still in place, and unfortunately it’s being aided and abetted by some Americans who were doing research on this same frontier of human knowledge with their Chinese colleagues.”
Thanks to Facebook’s “fact-checking” partners accusing LifeSite of spreading “debunked” information, LifeSite’s “We Can End Abortion” Facebook page has been barred from running advertisements.
Since March, Facebook and the rest of the world’s top internet companies have taken it upon themselves to act as arbiters of “reliable” information on the COVID-19 public health crisis.
While some of their criteria is fairly straightforward, LifeSite’s experience reinforces conservatives’ fear of the practice crossing the line into stifling legitimate debate about the wisdom of controversial government policies as well as society’s evolving understanding of the scientific facts, including conflicting studies and changing advice from medical experts.
Critics also argue that Facebook, which cites as authoritative the compromised, pro-China WHO, cannot be trusted to make these decisions impartially, or to avoid misinforming the public themselves. For instance, Mosher pointed out that the aforementioned “fact-check” of his piece that Facebook cited was not written by an impartial analyst, but had actually worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Facebook eventually dropped the “fact-check” in April, but did not apologize.
In July, Pew Research reported that 72% of the public believes social media companies have “too much power and influence” in politics today.
LifeSiteNews has launched a new series called Uncensored: Big Tech vs. Free Speech, which explores ongoing censorship of conservatives and what ordinary people can do about it.