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Facebook's parent company reiterates standing policy not to fact-check political speech

The exemption would apply to those seeking the presidency.
Donald Trump
Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 21:08:35-05

In a memo from Facebook's parent company Meta, the company's third-party fact-checking organizations were reminded that Meta's policy is to not fact-check political speech.

Meta pays third-party fact-checking organizations to add various labels to content deemed to be misinformation on their platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

The exemption would apply to former President Donald Trump or others announcing that they are running for president. The policy applies to all politicians.

According to the memo, obtained by CNN, Meta was asked to clarify its policy in anticipation of Trump's announcement for a 2024 White House bid.

The memo read, “Some of you have reached out seeking guidance regarding fact-checking political speech in anticipation of a potential candidacy announcement from former President Trump.”

According to Meta policy, the fact-checkers were told if and when Trump announced that he was running for president, he would then no longer be fact-checked on the company's platforms.

Meta said in the memo, “political speech is ineligible for fact-checking. This includes the words a politician says as well as photo, video, or other content that is clearly labeled as created by the politician or their campaign.”

The company's policy did not expressly say that a candidate must formally register with the Federal Election Commission to be exempt. Just before his planned Tuesday announcement at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's campaign registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing paperwork expressing the intent to seek the presidency.

Claire Wardle, co-director of the Information Futures Lab at Brown University, told Politico, “One of the biggest trends of the day has been the role of Donald Trump.”

“He is a critical figure in terms of pushing narratives that undermine election integrity,” she said.

“What it shows is that while the major platforms were able to remove him, they could not stop his supporters re-sharing content on Twitter and Facebook that Trump is posting on fringe platforms like Truth Social or Telegram,” said Wardle.

Meta's memo reiterated what the company defines a politician as, and when they will be fact-checked.

The memo said, “We define a ‘politician’ as candidates running for office, current office holders – and, by extension, many of their cabinet appointees – along with political parties and their leaders.”

A spokesperson for Meta, Andy Stone, said, “a reiteration of our long-standing policy should not be news to anyone.”

Meta does outline what would happen if a politician shares content that was rated by a fact-checker, saying, "There will be some instances where a rating from our fact-checking partners will affect politicians. When a politician shares a specific piece of content — e.g. a link to an article, video or photo created by someone else that has been previously debunked on Facebook — we will demote that content, display a warning and reject its inclusion in ads. This is different from a politician’s own claim or statement."