December 14, 2021
Facebook (aka “Meta”) has admitted in court that the “fact-checks” used by the site to blacklist non-corporate media content are actually opinion-based labels which do not conduct any real fact-checking of information posted to the site. The evidence was revealed during the court proceeding for a defamation case filed by John Stossel.
Stossel’s work on climate change was labeled by Facebook as “false and misleading.” In response to Stossel’s suit, Facebook wrote that the company cannot be sued for defamation in relation to the fact-checking. Defamation is defined as “making false and harmful assertions.”
Under this definition, Facebook argued that the fact-checking and associated labels on the posts across their sites “constitute protected opinion.”
In the United States legal system, opinions are not subject to defamation claims. Libel law protects opinions, which is the basis of Facebook’s defensive claim. The definition of “opinion” is “a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”
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