Facebook is barely doing anything about climate disinformation, but even that is too much for deniers. The social media giant recently announced that it was throwing some chump change at fact checkers and pointing more people to an expanded climate information center that would debunk climate myths and give users a dose of reality. But it’s attempted PR score was punctured by a report that found that even when a lie is fact checked (specifically the frozen windmills during the Texas blackout, based on a picture from 2014 in Sweden) less than 1% of the content featuring the disinformation was flagged as such by Facebook.
Suffice to say, critics weren’t exactly impressed by the announcement, particularly when followed by an AP/Frontline report that Neo-Nazis are (still) using Facebook to fundraise, and even moderate outlets like USA Today have started writing explainers for deleting your Facebook account. But it turns out that for deniers, even the less-than-the-bare-minimum that Facebook is doing to keep its users from sharing disinformation is entirely too much.
For example, in response to a new announcement from Facebook offering a sense of transparency around its new Content Distribution Guidelines, conservative media like the Daily
Stormer/Caller/Signal described it as “shedding more light on how the tech giant decides what content it suppresses.”
The most revealing of responses came from Ben Shapiro, who essentially admitted that his Daily Wire website is likely not up to Facebook’s very loose standards for quality content. Shapiro complained that by downgrading websites that mostly repost other outlet’s stories, publish a lot of fact-checked falsehoods, game the sharing system to boost virality, get most of their traffic from said gaming of said system, are untrusted, unoriginal, in violation of community standards, and are openly bigoted, Facebook is bending to liberal demands and censoring the Daily Wire. He doesn’t deny that his website does all those things, but instead defends it as being a move by Big News Goliaths to censor little Davids like himself.
In his ever-so-clever reveal as little more than the figurehead of a disinformation machine, Shapiro wrote that “it would not be a surprise to see content suppressed if it goes so far as to refer to Caitlyn Jenner as a male, which he most certainly is.” (Yes, Ben did use her correct name while also maliciously misgendering her.)
Poor, poor Ben Shapiro, unable to further game Facebook with shady schemes and hate on behalf of his billionaire fracking brothers benefactors! If you’re playing the world’s smallest violin for him, though, you may want to get out your microscope to find a smaller one.
Because John Stossel is going beyond just posting his complaints about being fact checked, and has actually filed a lawsuit for defamation against Facebook and the fact checkers who have found his claims were misleading.
Stossel’s re-litigating of the two Climate Feedback fact checks against his videos is a snooze-fest predicated on the absurd notion that he’s not actually arguing what he’s arguing and because part of the fact check was originally for someone else’s disinformation and not his, it doesn’t count. But what’s interesting is that he claims in the complaint that views for his video about wildfires and climate evaporated after the fact check (good!) and that after his video on climate alarmism got fact checked, “there was a dramatic drop in both views of that video and all Stossel’s other videos, and of the associated advertising revenue, which reduced by nearly half, from approximately $10,000 a month to approximately $5,500 a month.”
Perhaps the system works after all, as apparently Stossel is not considered celebrity-enough to be on Facebook’s whitelist that exempts “PR fire” accounts from fact-checking!
Interestingly, though, Stossel doesn’t mention in the lawsuit something that may actually make his claim to damages stronger. Because at the end of 2016 Stossel became part of the Koch’s “educational” program and starting at least in 2017, John Stossel’s been one of the Charles Koch Institute’s top contractors, netting $1.5 million in those three years. If Facebook’s measures to limit false content means he can’t make good on his Koch contract, assuming it continued into 2020 and 2021, he might just have a case!
But apparently we’ll have to wait for the Koch 990s to come out to see, because for some reason, Stossel doesn’t seem eager to admit the connection, and make anyone wonder if his videos being challenged by fact checkers are in fact deliverables for a grant to the godfather of climate disinformation.
Which just makes us wonder who’s paying Stossel’s legal fees for this publicity stunt of a lawsuit, since apparently he can’t make (as much) money off of his Facebook posts?
And his hired help can’t be cheap, given that the suit is filed by Krista Baughman, a Republican lawyer from Harmeet Dhillon’s firm. Baughman’s page, for example, brags about her successful efforts to make the case that revenge porn is fine if it’s attacking a Congresswoman like Katie Hill, or the one against Berkeley for cancelling a speech by noted white supremacist Ann Coulter.
At least Stossel’s in good company…