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Since 2016, social media giants have increasingly engaged in censorship under the guise of preventing the spread of misinformation –– “vetting and stigmatizing the content of reputable publishers” while “increasingly adding phony fact checks and removing articles flagged by left-leaning users without explanation,” according to The Editorial Board at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Now Big Tech and its self-anointed virus experts are silencing doctors with opposing views in an effort to shut down scientific debate, the WSJ said. The WSJ editorial board specifically called out Facebook for labeling an op-ed the paper ran in February as misleading.
Here’s what happened. On Feb. 19, the WSJ ran an opinion piece by Dr. Martin Makary, a Johns Hopkins surgeon, professor, published author and chief medical advisor to Sesame Care, a direct-to-patient healthcare company. In “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April,” Makary wrote that based on studies and scientific evidence, Americans would have enough immunity from vaccination and natural infection by early spring to sharply reduce the spread of COVID.
Facebook added the label “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people” to Makary’s article.
The Facebook label linked to third-party fact-checking website Health Feedback, a member of the World Health Organization’s “Vaccine Safety Net,” a vaccine project dedicated to correcting “misinformation about vaccine safety” on social media platforms.
Three Health Feedback scientists analyzed the article and gave it an overall scientific credibility rating of “very low,” stating “Misleading Wall Street Journal opinion piece makes unsubstantiated claims that the U.S would have herd immunity by April 2021.”
According to Facebook, once something is rated by a fact-checking partner, Facebook “takes action to ensure fewer people see the misinformation.”
But the WSJ argued that Makary didn’t present his opinion as a factual claim. He made a projection, like any other scientist, based on studies and data regarding herd immunity. The Facebook fact-checkers didn’t like Makary’s projection because it could lead to fewer virus restrictions.
Health Feedback’s fact-checkers disagreed with Makary’s evidence and his interpretation of it. They cherry-picked and misapplied studies to support their counter-opinions and “masqueraded them as facts,” the WSJ said.
“Scientists often disagree over how to interpret evidence,” The Editorial Board wrote. “Debate is how ideas are tested and arguments are refined. But Facebook’s fact checkers are presenting their opinions as fact and seeking to silence other scientists whose views challenge their own.”
In December 2020, Facebook pledged to remove “false claims” about COVID vaccines that had been debunked by public health experts, though they didn’t specify which public health experts,” according to The Hill.
Twitter followed suit saying it would label or place a warning on Tweets that “advance unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines.”
Lawmakers in more than a dozen states, who fear social media giants have too much control, have introduced legislation in an attempt to circumvent a federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, shielding social media companies from lawsuits over censorship of posts, the Associated Press reported.
Although the statute exempts websites from being sued for removing content deemed to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable” as long as the companies are acting in “good faith,” social media companies like Facebook are using this statute to shield themselves from removing content that’s anything but –– like Dr. Makary’s opinion, the WSJ said.
The WSJ has been hesitant to support proposals aimed at modifying Section 230 for platforms like Facebook, but “social media giants are dominating public discourse — acting like publishers, removing articles, adding phony fact checks and censoring other reputable publishers that would not be allowed without the protections of Section 230,” the WSJ editorial board wrote.
On Aug. 18, 2020, Children’s Health Defense (CHD) filed a lawsuit against Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and several third-party fact-checkers for illegal censorship and fraudulently misrepresenting and defaming CHD. The complaint alleges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Foundation and WHO collaborate with Facebook and Zuckerberg in a joint action with the government to censor content.
The complaint challenges the use of surrogate fact-checkers who are neither independent nor unbiased to suppress information and the deceptive technology Facebook uses to minimize reach and visibility of content.
On Feb. 10, CHD Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s Instagram account was deplatformed without notice.
Mark Zuckerberg has publicly claimed that social media platforms shouldn’t be “the arbiters of truth” but, as alleged in the CHD lawsuit, Zuckerberg is working with the government to suppress and purge unwanted critiques of government officials and policies.