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Facebook “Fact-Checker” RMIT Accused of Misconduct, Criticized for Spreading Misinformation about Energy

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RMIT ABC Fact Check – a collaboration between RMIT University and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – is continuing to lose whatever credibility it had left after a series of previous scandals.

And, this case once again sheds negative light on the phenomenon that is the fact-checking industry, one of the by-products of the censorship and information control that’s dominated the media over the past years.

The latest scandal saw businessman Dick Smith directly accusing RMIT of being the actual spreader of misinformation and lies – after the group came out with its “fact-check” of his remarks related to nuclear and renewable energy.

Related: Zuckerberg says he has “empathy” for those censored by “fact-checkers” who crush debate, but doesn’t suggest any changes

And despite RMIT at first attempting to stick to its guns, maintaining that its assertions were accurate, Smith yesterday received an apology from the ABC, which also had to correct its original report, which is now described as “riddled with errors” thanks to RMIT’s “fact-checking.”

It all started several days earlier when Smith spoke for a Sydney radio station, refuting a claim made by Australia’s government agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which said it is possible for an entire country to depend solely on solar and wind energy.

That is “simply a lie (…) they (CSIRO) are telling lies” said the businessman, adding that since there is no example anywhere of a country managing to sustain itself, energy-wise, on renewables – “we should be making a decision to go nuclear now.”

This “activated” RMIT ABC Fact Check, that quickly came out with a report supposedly proving that Smith was wrong by making what turned out to be a false claim that Nepal (and three others) is an example of a country which uses 100 percent renewable energy sources.

What possessed RMIT to pick Nepal of all places as an example remains unknown, since reports say the country is “highly reliant on the debilitating burning of bio-fuel.” But it did provide Smith with another opportunity to call out liars.

“I’m angry. The whole document is full of misinformation and lies, it’s designed to discredit me. Absolutely disgusting,” Smith said.

“They (RMIT) say on the document… this is your inoculation against misinformation and their document is just completely misinformation because the left at the ABC have to be against nuclear, so they just make up every lie they can to distort anyone who says we have to move to nuclear,” he added.

Smith also said that the three other countries mentioned by RMIT – Albania, Bhutan and Paraguay – also all use fossil fuel.

Elon Musk was quick to support Smith’s comments, responding to journalist Michael Shellenberger by writing, “Having government ‘fact-checkers’ is a giant leap in the direction of tyranny.”

Previously, even Facebook had to cut ties with RMIT after the group was accused of hijacking its fact-checking program and behaving as an activist.

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