Over the last month, the “fact-checking” of memes on Facebook and Instagram has become so ridiculous that the fact-checkers themselves have become a meme. However, that’s not prevented them from continuing to fact check the latest and greatest memes.
Some of their most recent efforts are focused on memes featuring the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) with memes of him wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat being hidden behind a “False Information” warning.
These warnings seemed to start appearing today on MLK Day – a federal holiday dedicated commemorating MLK and a day when lots of memes featuring the civil rights activist are likely to be circulating online.
The fact check for the post was created a few days after MLK Day 2019 and describes the MLK MAGA meme as a “doctored photo” – wording that blurs the line between humorous memes and other types of manipulated media which have a more obvious intent to mislead.
According to conservative commentator Mark Dice, these MLK MAGA memes are being fact-checked on both Facebook and Instagram.
Seriously, Facebook and Instagram are automatically flagging this meme as "fake" once you post it.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) January 20, 2020
Not only do these warnings result in the memes being obscured and hidden behind a notice but they also discourage people from sharing. Instead of being presented with sharing options when tapping the share button, Facebook users are shown a further warning that says their own pages or websites could face sanctions if they share the meme:
“Independent fact-checkers at Factcheck.org say this post has false information. To help stop the spread of false news, a notice will be added to your post if you decide to share this.
Pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways. Learn More.”
The warning message also says that these memes are “FALSE” because they “Spread Disputed Claim of MLK Party Affiliation.”
These blocked MLK MAGA memes again show that this fact-checking program, which claims to stop the spread of misinformation, is mostly just censoring and killing memes on Facebook and Instagram.
And recent reports suggest that this fact-checking is now even extending beyond memes with photoshopped or filtered photos also starting to be hit with these “False Information” warnings.