Scott Tibbs

Why is Facebook desperate to debunk a meme?

By Scott Tibbs, December 6, 2021

Facebook is desperate to "debunk" memes about the Ghislaine Maxwell criminal trial, to the point that they are attaching "fact checks" to memes. Why is Facebook so desperate to debunk memes? Why is Facebook so defensive about this particular criminal trial?

When I shared a meme on Facebook a couple weeks ago, I was hit with a "fact check" warning that the meme "could mislead people." Facebook then threatened to penalize my page for sharing "false information." Of course, there is a big problem with Facebook's so-called "fact check" on the meme: Facebook and PolitiFact are "debunking" assertions that were never made. Here is the meme, and here is the bogus fact check.

The actual fact is that the meme did not allege there was a hidden agenda behind the news media's coverage of the Ghislaine Maxwell and Kyle Rittenhouse criminal trials. The meme said that the media can restore trust by covering the two trials equally. There is no conspiracy theory, and no false accusation made. There is no text that alleges a hidden agenda. The fact that the legacy news media has covered the Rittenhouse trial exponentially more than the Maxwell trial is not in dispute. The only dishonesty is in Facebook's so-called "fact check" fabricating a claim that was not made. Straw men are fundamentally dishonest arguments.

Obviously there is bias in the news media, whether it is the legacy media or the "new media." This is because news is made by people, and people are biased. Bias comes through not just in reporting on a particular story, but on what stories are covered and not covered. Many in the legacy media do indeed try to be objective, but that does not make the media immune from criticism on what they choose to cover or not cover. Commenting on these choices is not "false information," no matter what Facebook or PolitiFact says.

Facebook and PolitiFact are desperate to debunk something that was never alleged in the meme - to the point that they warn a meme can "mislead people" about the trial and the news media's coverage. This speaks volumes about their hypersensitivity and unreasonable defensiveness on this issue - as well as the hypersensitivity and unreasonable defensiveness of the legacy news media. Is it really that much of a threat to comment on what the news media chooses to cover and not cover?

The Ghislaine Maxwell trial absolutely is newsworthy. Setting aside the nutty QAnon cult's conspiracy theories, it is well-documented that Jeffrey Epstein was a serial sexual abuser of young girls. There are many suspicions about powerful people who were friends of Epstein and who flew to his mysterious island. There is a scandal here and it is potentially much bigger than a foolish teenage kid shooting three "Antifa" terrorists who were violently attacking him.

What Facebook does not understand is that this behavior feeds rather than discourages conspiracy theories. It makes people suspicious of Facebook's motives and what they are trying to hide, especially when they are chasing ghosts as they were with memes about the Maxwell trial. It is one thing to address actual conspiracy theories, but this is a ham-fisted and clumsy way of dealing with it. The dishonesty of the "fact check" makes it even worse, because the so-called "fact check" is itself misleading.

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