Facebook, which was partly seeded in funds from the Central Intelligence Agency's IN-Q-TEL venture capital firm as a method to collect personal information, has announced it is partnering with several "independent" fact checkers to combat the dissemination of "fake news" from the Internet on social media. This is a major step by the government, in concert with the information technology industry, in censoring information on the Web itself.
Facebook's partners in identifying "fake news" with a goal of identifying it as such and downgrading its ability to be widely re-posted represent a panoply of media operations with embedded political biases.
Facebook is partnering with the Poynter Institute of St. Petersburg, Florida, along with Factcheck.org, an operation of the Annenberg Public Policy Center that investigates political claims; Politifact, another political claim fact checker that is run by The Tampa Bay Times, owned by the Poynter Institute; the Associated Press; ABC News; and, perhaps, the worst example of a hopelessly biased fact checking operation, Snopes.com.
In this editor's new book, "The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries, and Contractor," Snopes.com is identified as a notorious CIA propaganda partner. The Washington Post is also partnering with Facebook in its anti-"fake news" campaign even though the paper, owned by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, recently listed 200 websites that it claimed were lackeys for distributing "Russian propaganda." Although a dozen or so websites listed were bona fide fake news sites, the vast majority were legitimate web-based news originators, disseminators, and aggregators. After the Post refused to identify the players at the list producer -- a website called PropOrNot.com that has links to the CIA and George Soros -- the Post issued a half-hearted retraction of the story originally written by Carl Timberg, the son of Robert Timberg, the Annapolis classmate and friend of Arizona Senator John McCain. And there are no greater phony in American politics today than McCain, the "singing canary" of Hanoi and infamous fire starter of the USS Forrestal.
The Facebook model would not be so dangerous if it were to only identify fake news sites, of which there are far too many. But its program delves into the area of acting as a self-appointed web news editorial operation that seeks to call into question any news story not approved by the Poynter Institute's partners.
The Poynter Institute runs an international fact checking network called the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) that not only identifies bogus news websites but also takes it upon itself to criticize news stories for lack of sources political and "biases." Of course, the Poynter network runs counter to two journalistic traditions: news stories based on strict confidentiality -- the Drew Pearson/Jack Anderson model -- and opinion columns based on not-for-attribution interviews.
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