John Stossel, who identifies as a libertarian—not a conservative—has had enough of the fact-check labels Facebook places on posts when the platform has a problem with the content.
When Facebook claims someone spreads misleading or partly false info, we who are accused have little recourse.
I spent a year trying to get Facebook and it’s “fact checkers” to correct false things they posted about me.
Now I'm taking them to court.https://t.co/D86NezktTO
— John Stossel (@JohnStossel) September 24, 2021
Former TV journalist John Stossel is demanding at least $2 million in damages from Facebook in a lawsuit he filed against the social media giant, alleging the company defamed him by appending fact-checking labels to two videos he posted about climate change.
In a statement to Variety, a Facebook spokesperson said, “We believe this case is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously against the allegations.”
They surely will, and have the legal coffers to paper Stossel for more than a few years. However, this is becoming an ongoing problem with the social media oligarch, who want to claim Section 230 protections as a private business, but also want to act as though they are a publisher, as well as arbiters and protectors of truth.
They cannot have it both ways, and lawsuits like this only reflect how much they insist on it. Right-wing personality Candace Owens attempted to sue Facebook, and the court dismissed it. We will see how well Stossel’s suit fares.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
This era of social media is bringing about a new genre of libel litigation — one where an individual says something, then is corrected, and then goes to court with bruised reputation. The latest complaint comes from John Stossel, the veteran TV journalist who on Wednesday sued Facebook in California federal court over what was affixed to his post about 2020 California forest fires and their cause.
“This case presents a simple question: do Facebook and its vendors defame a user who posts factually accurate content, when they publicly announce that the content failed a ‘fact-check’ and is ‘partly false,’ and by attributing to the user a false claim that he never made?” Stossel’s complaint asks. “The answer, of course, is yes.”
According to Stossel’s complaint (read here), he published on Facebook a video titled “Government Fueled Fires,” where he took on “sensational media reporting about a so-called ‘climate apocalypse,’ and explored a scientific hypothesis … that while climate change undoubtedly contributes to forest fires, it was not the primary cause of the 2020 California fires.”
Sossel [sic] targeted forest management.
After posting the video, he says Facebook placed a label near his video that stated, “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Further information told readers: “Claim — ‘forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.’ Verdict: misleading.”
Stossel says he never made that specific claim, that it was falsely attributed to him, and that Facebook’s actions curtailed his viewership and caused immediate and irreparable harm to his reputation.
I have received my share of Facebook flags. One was for “misleading information.” The other was for “lack of a supportive narrative”! So, Facebook are editors, as well as fact checkers now?
They pull this stuff out of their hindquarters, and for companies that rely on advertising dollars and eyes on their page, a throttling by Facebook can cause them thousands, if not millions of dollars.
John Stossel is on a righteous cause. We will see how this one goes.