The role of a fact-checker is an important one. Recent years have shown that inaccurate and even maliciously false stories can spread rapidly across social media and disinformation networks have been used to mislead the public, as well as to exercise dishonest influence over policy decisions while often times harming the reputations of people, businesses and government entities. Fact-checkers have a critical task in helping the general public to understand when they are being deceived.
Unfortunately, oftentimes fact-checkers tasked with this important responsibility instead use it for their own personal and partisan goals, themselves spreading inaccurate or even maliciously false information. To assume the title of fact-checker is to assume the public’s trust to responsibly discern true from false. Instead of helping discern what’s true from false, fact-checkers can instead create their own disinformation, suppressing news reporting and even opinions they disagree with, while lending credibility to the types of disinformation they do agree with. With the trust they gain from their title, fact-checkers also have the power to damage the reputations of journalists, news publications and commentators who have not spread false information, but information that those fact-checkers dislike.
Furthermore, powerful search engines and social media websites that exercise enormous influence over public discourse have often turned to these fact-checkers to moderate content on their websites. In the best-case scenario, this practice of outsourcing editorial responsibility to these third-party fact-checkers, who often behave dishonestly, risks letting those fact-checkers maliciously disrupt important public discourse and damage the reputations of journalists, publications and commentators on the most visible and freely accessible public forums. When search engines and social media websites give power to dishonest fact-checkers to moderate content, they also lend the credibility of their platforms to dishonest statements of facts made by these “fact-checkers” thereby furthering the reputational damage to the victims of these dishonest fact-checkers.
The MetaFact Group was started with one goal in mind. To fact-check the “fact-checkers.” When fact-checkers are using dishonest tactics to damage the reputations of others and manipulate public discourse to align with their personal views, MetaFact will document that dishonesty for the public to see. MetaFact works to maintain an up-to-date record of when fact-checks are misapplied so that the public can more easily discern true from false and individuals and companies whose reputations have been harmed by dishonest fact-checks can document and address those issues as they find appropriate.