Last April, Lithuania’s largest portal 15min.lt became a Facebook fact-checking partner. The Latvian investigative journal Re: Baltica and the editorial board of Eesti Delfi joined the group of fact checkers in March this year.
In recent months, all three FB fact-checking groups in the Baltic nations have come under domestic attack, including the publications in which they operate and their journalistic content.
Attacks in every Baltic country
In April of this year, a campaign to collect signatures was launched against the activity of fact checking by the largest Lithuanian online publication 15min.lt, demanding the termination of this activity. The initiator was the web portal Minfo.lt, which is owned by the Maximalist Psychotherapy Society. The petition alleges that the fact checking was biased in the interests of the owners, which in the case of 15min.lt is, the Postimees Group.
A petition against Latvia’s Re: Baltica was launched in mid-March. The petition was initiated by the portal gaismastimeklis.lv, which, among other things, disseminates alternative views on 5G, vaccines and the coronavirus. The owner seeks attention through this „one-man portal“.
In Estonia, the FB fact checkers working for Delfi’s editorial staff have been the target of criticism of the Portals Objective and New News portals, and the main complaint is the FB content checking based on the worldview of the Delfi publication.
Being a partner of FB fact checking has caused confusion for others as well.
Demagog, an independent and highly experienced fact-checking company operating in Poland, for example, has been criticized for reporting that the Polish Liberal Conservative Najwyższy Czas is fake news! FB postings shared misleading and later corrected news from the Polish Press Agency. The case led to a public confrontation between Demagog and Najwyższy Czas.
The Ukrainian disinformation portal StopFake, which is also a FB’s fact-checking partner, was accused this month of deleting a Zaborona FB posting and blocking a user account that published a critical article about them, even though it was not StopFake who did it but Facebook itself.
The attacks have led the publications to defend themselves and to explain the practical side of FB’s fact checking and its nature in general. All this has raised the question of whether such a fact checking of predominantly internal national posts should be linked to a particular press publication and whether such practices do more harm or benefit to the publication.
The facts remain the facts
Fact checking has begun to cause confusion for its perpetrators, and in recent months, the fact checking of fact checking has repeatedly been seen in Estonia, the aim of which is not to improve the work of primary fact checking, but rather to spread its ideology under the sound name of fact checking.
The facts remain the facts and misinformation needs to be refuted, regardless of the ideological background of the fact checker or confrontations between the information checker and the original source.
On the other hand, fact checking also needs clearer rules and a better public understanding of who, why and how has the fact checking been targeted.
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