IFCN explains Facebook's 'partnership' with right-wing-funded site
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez subjected Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to a fierce line of questioning on Wednesday, October 23, when Zuckerberg testified before the US House Financial Service Committee. (READ: Facebook's Zuckerberg open to scaling back Libra plan)
Ocasio-Cortez and Zuckerberg's exchange covered Cambridge Analytica, fact checking political ads, and ended on two questions about the Daily Caller, a right-wing website known for publishing misinformation.
Ocasio-Cortez asked why the Daily Caller was one of Facebook's official fact checkers, to which Zuckerberg replied, "We actually don't appoint the independent fact checkers, we go through an independent organization called the Independent Fact Checking Network (IFCN) that has a rigorous standard for who they allow to serve as a fact checker." (READ: Facebook 'big' project on journalism set for this week)
However, the Daily Caller is not one of IFCN's signatories. Neither does the IFCN appoint Facebook's fact checkers.
Who did the IFCN verify? The fact checking unit Check Your Fact is a verified signatory of the IFCN, but the Daily Caller is not.
On their website, Check Your Fact says they are a non-partisan, for-profit subsidiary of The Daily Caller Inc, majority of which is owned by co-founders Neil Patel and Tucker Carlson, a far-right Fox News host.
Check Your Fact was expelled from IFCN's verified signatories in November 2017 because they did not disclose one of their funding sources, the Daily Caller News Foundation.
How does Facebook choose its 3rd party fact checkers? Facebook uses IFCN certification as a minimum requirement for their 3rd party fact-checking partners, but not all signatories are partners. Only 56 out of 77 verified signatories work with Facebook.
IFCN Director Baybars Orsek clarified through a tweet in response to Zuckerberg's testimony, the IFCN does not advise the social media giant on which organizations should be part of the fact-checking program.
Regarding yesterday's exchange between Representative @AOC and Mark Zuckerberg (@facebook), I'd like to use the opportunity to share how the Third Party Fact-Checking Program runs and how @factchecknet certifies independent fact-checking organizations.— Baybars Örsek (@baybarsorsek) October 24, 2019
The IFCN is not paid to certify organizations for Facebook.
All IFCN signatories must commit to the network’s Code of Principles (CoP), namely: non-partisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and organization, transparency of methodology, and an open and honest corrections policy.
Fact-checking organizations found to be compliant with the CoP through external assessment and vetting by a jury of leaders in the field become verified signatories of the IFCN.
What does the IFCN have to say about Ocasio-Cortez and Zuckerberg's exchange? In a series of tweets following the testimony, Orsek said that there needs to be further clarification on Facebook's fact checking program, IFCN's role in it, and their mission to promote higher standards on fact-checking.
Facebook, he said, hasn't been communicating this successfully and the IFCN has indicated this to the company.
He ended: "Last but not least, I'm also dismayed to see that the gains and impact of this program are targeted to be sacrificed to political polarization. I shouldn't have been the single person to provide this deep background on the program publicly when there is such scrutiny over it." – Rappler.com