Journalist John Stossel is suing Facebook after Facebook’s ‘fact checkers’ labeled climate change information that Stossel posted as “false and misleading”. In the middle of all this is the nefarious website “Climate Feedback” which has a bunch of climate zealots that write up what they claim are “fact checks” for articles, videos, and news stories they disagree with.
Last year Stossel published a video on Facebook titled, “Government Fueled Fires’ in the aftermath of the 2020 California forest fires. After noting that climate change was a ‘contributor’ to forest fires, Stossel pointed out that it wasn’t the reason in the case of California fires. He had squarely blamed poor government forest management as the primary cause.
Facebook was quick to put a label on the video claiming it as misleading. “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people,” it alleged. The social media giant further added, ” Claim — ‘forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.’ Verdict: misleading.”
Now Facebook has blown the “fact check” claim right out of the water in court.
In its response to Stossel’s defamation claim, Facebook responds on Page 2, Line 8 in the court document that Facebook cannot be sued for defamation (which is making a false and harmful assertion) because its ‘fact checks’ are mere statements of opinion rather than factual assertions.
Opinions are not subject to defamation claims, while false assertions of fact can be subject to defamation. The quote in Facebook’s complaint is, “The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion.”
So, in a court of law, in a legal filing, Facebook admits that its ‘fact checks’ are not really ‘fact’ checks at all, but merely ‘opinion assertions.’