Claiming that “Combating misinformation is an ongoing global challenge for society,” Google and YouTube on Tuesday said they will spend $12 million to create a Global Fact Check Fund that will support a network of 135 fact-checking organizations operating from 65 countries in more than 80 languages.
The money is part of a $13.5 million grant the tech companies awarded the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a division of the nonprofit media institute Poynter, according to Mashable.
The money will go toward scaling up existing operations of Poynter’s IFCN, and also toward launching new initiatives to elevate what the IFCN deems to be “information” and reduce what it deems to be “misinformation,” the companies said.
“The world needs fact-checking more than ever before,” said Baybars Örsek, executive director of the IFCN. “This partnership with Google and YouTube infuses financial support to global fact-checkers and is a step in the right direction.”
However, Mark Crispin Miller, Ph.D., professor of media studies at New York University, told The Defender he found the development to be “grotesque — almost to the point of comedy, except that it’s not funny.”
Michael Rectenwald, Ph.D., author of “Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom,” also criticized Google and YouTube’s financial partnership with the IFCN, telling The Defender:
“Google and YouTube are not purveyors of information; they are tools for the totalitarian control of information. They have engaged in censorship, down-ranking, and black-listing information, likely since their inception.
“Their outsourcing of such functions to the IFCN is no surprise at all. The IFCN is merely an agent of the totalitarian regime.”
Are fact checks statements of opinion or statements of fact?
The distinction between what constitutes “information” versus what constitutes “misinformation” is arbitrary and depends on whether it aligns with the preferred narrative of those in power, Rectenwald said.
“‘Misinformation’ means anything that runs counter to the regime’s narratives on any number of issues, including international policy and warfare, economics and recession, pandemics and vaccines, politics and elections, the global elites, climate change and The Great Reset that is being ushered in as we speak.”
Moreover, according to Facebook, “Fact checks” are statements of opinion, and as such, are protected under the First Amendment — that’s what the social media giant argued when, after it was sued for defamation, the company claimed its “fact checks” aren’t factual assertions.
In November 2020, Children’s Health Defense filed a First and Fifth Amendment lawsuit against Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and two of Facebook’s “fact-checkers” for illegal censorship and false promotion/false misrepresentations under federal law (the Lanham Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act).
Jenin Younes, litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, told The Defender Google and YouTube have suppressed free speech on key issues.
Read More: ‘Grotesque’: Google, YouTube Invest $12 Million in Global Fact-Checking