One of Facebook’s fact-checkers ramped up the war against News Punch on Thursday by demanding that we remove an article in which we exposed their threatening behavior towards us for refusing to publish Covid propaganda on their behalf.
On Tuesday, Agence France Presse (AFP), one of Facebook’s designated fact-checkers tasked with deciding what users can and can’t see online, demanded that we tell our readers that rising heart problems are nothing to do with Covid jabs. Their email to us insinuated that we could face censorship on social media if we failed to do so.
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The article they took issue with was a 2nd December story we published entitled, “Researchers Warn That Cold Weather Can Cause Blood Clots & Heart Attacks.”
Instead of complying with their demands, we published an article the following day, entitled: “Fact-Checker Orders NewsPunch To Tell Readers That Rising Heart Problems Are ‘NOTHING To Do With Vaccines’.” In the article, we shared the contents of AFP‘s email to us to let the public get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in the fact-checking business.
This act of transparency angered the folks at AFP. In response to our article, they sent two follow-up emails demanding that we retract our expose of them, whilst potentially also breaching privacy and confidentiality rules by forwarding an email and contact information of one of their readers to us.
The first follow-up email, dated 8th December, stated:
Dear News Punch,
We are writing in response to your online post about one of our fact checkers, Natalie Wade.
Firstly, you have without foundation targeted an individual who merely reached out to you for comment, which is standard journalistic practice. Your past article, which she referred to, is not being fact checked. Nor is it under review under Facebook’s third party fact checking agreement with AFP.
Our fact checker did not ‘order’ you to do anything, contrary to what your headline says. We merely asked for comment, given that social media users are saying YOUR article is untrue. We are not fact checking the posts of those social media users.
As such your highly personal attack is unwarranted. Secondly, your inaccurate assertions may now warrant additional inclusions in our fact check. I would suggest you remove your attack on Natalie Wade because it makes no sense — and that will become even more clear when our article is published.
Good day to you,
AFP Fact Check
Before we had a chance to decide whether or not to respond to this emotional outburst, they followed up with another email, this time to the website’s former owner on the 9th December (note: Sean is no longer the owner of NewsPunch.com):
I am writing you directly because we have not received a reply to an email sent to your contact address yesterday after News Punch published an article attacking one of our fact checkers, Natalie Wade.
Below is a copy of the message I sent you, which I chose to share with one reader who contacted us to ask about the claims you made about us and our (as yet unpublished) content.
To illustrate how wide of the mark your post about Natalie (and AFP) is, below is the claim made by social media users about your story that we are currently reviewing:
COLD WEATHER RELATED HEART ISSUES ARE NOT REAL
Do you get that? People are saying that your story is not true and are misusing it. They say your publication is lying.
And yet you attack us?
I think you should respond.
AFP Fact Check
As you can see from the screenshot above, they included the name, email address and message that one of their readers had sent to them in confidence. We’ve had the decency to hide the name of the reader to protect their privacy.
Why is one of Facebook’s arbiters of truth angrily lashing out at a small independent publisher and flagrantly breaching privacy rules?
Censoring news and information on the world’s biggest platform is a serious business, and it should be taken seriously by AFP – especially now that Facebook have anointed them watchdogs of all of our news feeds.
Suffice to say, we did not remove our article exposing them. Nor did we publish propaganda on their behalf.
We will keep our readers updated about this and any other abuses committed by the fact-checkers. There is too much at stake to let these misdeeds go unreported.
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