Over the last couple of months, Facebook’s fact checkers have made a series of controversial and erroneous decisions which have resulted in genuine posts being hidden behind a “False Information” notice.
And now, another disputed Facebook fact check has resulted in digital education platform PragerU having its Facebook page restricted and the reach of its posts reduced.
Facebook claims it is restricting PragerU’s page for “repeated sharing of false news.”
As a result of the decision, PragerU’s overall News Feed distribution will be reduced and it won’t be able to run ads or use Facebook’s monetization features like Instant Articles.
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The restrictions on PragerU’s page come after it has been subject to several questionable or disputed fact checks.
The most recent fact check, which appears to have triggered the restrictions on PragerU’s page, was on a video where PragerU stated that the polar bear population has been growing, the polar bear population hasn’t been this high in over 50 years, and that polar bears are thriving even where sea ice is diminishing.
The fact-check notice from Science Feedback/Climate Feedback has labeled PragerU’s arguments as “incorrect” and claims:
“There is no evidence that the global polar bear population is growing. Sea ice loss due to climate change is recognized as the most important threat to the long-term survival of polar bears.”
The expanded fact-check accuses PragerU of cherry-picking data and argues that only two of 19 polar bear subpopulations are likely increasing in size and that sea ice loss due to climate change is recognized as the most important threat to the long-term survival of polar bears.
However, zoologist Susan Crockford, who was cited as a source for two of PragerU’s claims, has rebutted this fact-check and wrote that:
“It presents no proof that I’m wrong or that the PragerU video is ‘false information’. Climate Feedback is not ‘factchecking’: it is presenting its preferred side of a disputed science issue.”
Crockford states that the polar bear data is contradictory and that “several polar bear subpopulations (at least four of them) are indeed thriving despite much reduced summer sea ice.”
But despite the contradictory data and differing opinions from scientists, this fact check has contributed to PragerU’s page being throttled.
Before this disputed polar bear fact check, Facebook labeled another of PragerU’s posts “Partly False” last year, even though the associated fact check actually confirmed PragerU’s claims.
The sanctions that have been placed on PragerU’s page come as Facebook’s third-party fact checking program has faced increased scrutiny in recent months after several controversial fact checks have resulted in popular posts being censored.
Last week, a genuine video of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot supporting the “New World Order” was labeled false by Facebook’s fact checkers and had its distribution reduced.