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20 May, 2020 21:43

Whose alternative facts? Facebook consigns PragerU to ‘reduced visibility’ purgatory after challenge to polar bear myth

Whose alternative facts? Facebook consigns PragerU to ‘reduced visibility’ purgatory after challenge to polar bear myth

Conservative channel PragerU has been sidelined on Facebook after a clip challenging climate change dogma ran afoul of fact-checkers. Accused of repeatedly sharing “false news,” they've demanded Facebook stop censoring the Right.

PragerU was sentenced to the shadow realm of “reduced distribution” after posting a video to its Facebook page debunking the oft-deployed environmentalist trope that polar bear populations are on the brink of extinction because of the melting ice caps. Informed that third-party fact-checker Climate Feedback had taken issue with the clip, the conservative video-maker was told that if it wanted to return its page to good standing, it would have to appeal to the fact-checker directly.

Insisting that all the facts in the video had been reliably sourced, PragerU pushed back, slamming Facebook for “hiding behind fact-checkers target[ing] ideas they disagree with” and pretending to be “the arbiter of truth.”

“If you truly value freedom of expression, as you often claim, you wouldn’t hide behind fact-checkers targeting ideas they disagree with,” the nonprofit tweeted, demanding Facebook reverse its censorship - or at least own up to it.


The offending video, now hidden under a grayed-out warning screen warning “false information - checked by independent fact-checkers,” uses an iconic photo of a starving polar bear that became a rallying cry for environmental activists in 2017 as a lead-in to debunk the myth of the polar bear as climate victim. Starting with a quote from National Geographic admitting the image was used deceptively - neither the photographer nor the outlet knew why the animal was so skinny - the clip provides statistics from Canadian polar bear expert Susan Crockford, a thorn in the side of climate change activists for her scholarship that has shown bear populations largely remaining stable - with a few even growing - in spite of warming oceans.

Also on rt.com ‘Fake news’ for a good cause? Viral polar bear video not what it seems

Facebook itself passed the buck when asked by both Breitbart and PragerU about the decision to limit the page’s reach, declaring its third-party fact-checkers were “certified through the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.”

However, the IFCN, run by the journalism nonprofit the Poynter Institute, is not exactly nonpartisan. The supposedly apolitical organization is heavilyfunded by liberal bogeymen including George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, and Bill Gates. Poynter has lamented in the past that just half of Americans believe fact-checkers are unbiased.

Earlier this month, Facebook also announced the names of the Oversight Board that would be put in charge of its content policing, raising eyebrows with the inclusion of outspoken partisan activists. 

Just days later, its moderators "mistakenly" censored the iconic image of the Red Army soldiers raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag on Victory Day as violating "community standards on dangerous individuals and organizations." It wasn't exactly an isolated incident - the platform removed a post containing text from the Declaration of Independence in 2018 for "go[ing] against our standards on hate speech.” 

Also on rt.com The REAL inconvenient truth: Polar bears thriving in spite of climate change, but saying this gets scientists fired

The increased censorship of content shared on Facebook has been a direct result of political pressure brought to bear on the Menlo Park behemoth since the 2016 presidential election, in which now-President Donald Trump used social media to bypass mainstream outlets that overwhelmingly supported his opponent. While complaints about censorship on the platform emanate most often from the Right, anti-establishment voices on the Left have also found themselves deplatformed and shadowbanned as well.

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