Granted Absolution by the Omniscient Fact-Checkers and I was Grateful
I was recently fact-checked on Facebook for the first time. Surprisingly, I have actually never been fact-checked before – unbelievable, I know. I have had posts and comments turned into the Facebook police and told that my post violated community standards, but today was my first bona fide fact-check.
The problem is that the fact-checker is wrong and I can prove it, but there is no clear way to dispute the all-knowing, all-seeing checkers of facts. This is a problem, because, unless I am wrong, not one of them is omniscient, but Facebook treats them as if they are. Like a Papal Bull, if the checkers of facts deem something to be false – it is. So when they deem 2+2=5, what are we serfs to do?
My post was an innocent quote by C.S. Lewis set in a meme form. I admit, I downloaded a meme that was already created instead of creating my own, but I had just read the quote in “Mere Christianity” – a book authored by…<cue drum roll, please>…C.S. Lewis. Immediately I received an overlay and notice that the quote is not attributable to C.S. Lewis. Now, I understand that sometimes older books are edited by others with some nuanced changes, so I checked the book over and did a quick internet search for a copy of the book online to make sure that what I had read a half hour earlier might have been edited by someone else. In less than 2 minutes, I found (on the first page of the search results) two free pdf versions of the book. Looking in both of those, I found the quote sitting exactly where I had found it in the paperback version.
So, I went back to my Facebook post and clicked the “why” button on the overlay (HINT: Pay attention to the media company and the country the fact-check is attributed to – you will need this later). First of all, the quote I posted doesn’t even match the fact-checked quote. Second, even if the quote was the one checked, I have three separate editions of the book that says the fact-checker is wrong. And lastly, there is no “You’re wrong” link for me to dispute the rating.
What is on the “Why you are an idiot” sleeve is a “Learn more” link, so I clicked on that. It brought me to the Help Center. Now I’m not sure how you define help, but I define it much differently than the cabal that runs Facebook. The help center is far from helpful. There’s a whole lot of useless information about how committed Facebook is to accurate information being spread on the internet (clearly not) and how the independent fact-checkers rate each other’s accuracy meaning that Fact-checking is Big Tech’s version of an Emmy where other fact-checkers kisses each other’s backside instead of caring if they are correct or not. Nowhere is there a place for me, the lowly user to rate their accuracy mind you. Then it goes on to tell me how I can report information to be checked by the all-wise ones. Then, tucked way down on the page is a link to “provide feedback on stories you think are false” which is where I (stupidly) assumed I could get redress, but alas – that is not the case. This link was to educate the lowly plebes on how to flag a post as false. So I went back and searched again.
Don’t ask me how I got there, but I wandered onto the Business Help page. This page is for business accounts on Facebook to appeal fact-checks, ratings received, etc.and I really don’t qualify for the help on this page because my post was on my personal page and A QUOTE OF AN AUTHOR! This is the page, however, where the location of the omniscient one comes into play. Scroll down and you will see a list of countries – find yours in the list and click on it. Mine was from Australia (Do they not read C.S. Lewis down there?). That provides a link to the agencies in that country with which Facebook contracts. Click it and voila – your email program opens like magic like the red telephone in the Oval Office, you are provided a lifeline to dispute your sins. Oh. My. Goodness.
After a few back-and-forths with the fact-checking gods, I was able to get my post cleared. No apology. Not even an “oops, my bad.” They just moved along to the next petitioner like they were handing out alms and I should be grateful.
I am reminded of the poem by Rudyard Kipling, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” where the gods of the marketplace twist reality, promise peace, and fuller life which the people gladly embrace. Those who speak up are demonized, but prevail in the end because the gods of the copybook headings are “inescapable conditions inherent in human nature, witnessed by history, [and] ignored at our peril (JMS Tompkins). I pray that is true because our world has gone insane. Real objective Truth is discoverable and 2 plus 2 will always equal 4.