Some of you may have already noticed, but one of our stories got ‘fact checked’ by Full Fact – one of Facebook’s official go-to fact checking services.
Their special brand of ‘The Fun Police’ creamed themselves over our article about Eastenders getting subtitles in Arabic. They concluded that it was indeed a piece of ‘satire,’ because three seconds of Googling the term ‘Southend News Network’ makes this obvious to anyone who is capable of independent respiration.
Full Fact is a registered charity that cavorts around social media ‘for the greater good,’ protecting those poor little hard-of-thinking individuals who seem to have trouble distinguishing between ‘real’ and ‘bullshit,’ except it is well worth remembering that they have a smug, chai latte-drinking agenda just like everyone else.
Back in 2017, one of Full Fact’s minions decided to collaborate with The Guardian for a little slam piece on fake news, and although the ‘Grauniad’s’ journalist never admitted this in print he admitted to me on the phone that the main motivation for his ‘investigation’ into fake news was that some fake content was getting more shares than their genuine, ‘look at me I have a degree’ pieces of journalism.
Boo fucking hoo.
Long story short, their investigation resulted in ‘Simon Harris is responsible for Southend News Network’ being printed on The Guardian’s front page on a Saturday morning, along with some fascinating insights about a now-defunct politics blog that I was helping a friend with at the time. As it turned out, nobody really gave a shiny shit, and that was that.
But anyway, back to the good people at Full Fact, and it appears that their own website appears to contradict itself a tad.
In their description of Southend News Network, they said:
Southend News Network was originally started in October 2015 with no real aims or objectives in mind other than to add a satirical/spoof-like touch to issues that people are passionate about in Southend On Sea.
A cut-and-paste from our main website description, and indeed accurate. However, this seems a little at odds with their Facebook fact-checking mission statement:
We’ll only be checking images, videos or articles presented as fact-based reporting. Other content, like satire and opinion, will be exempt.
Now chaps, exactly what part of ‘add a satirical/spoof-like touch to issues’ gives the sense that we are presenting anything as ‘fact-based reporting.’ Could you kindly make your fucking minds up?
It is well worth bearing in mind that as an official Facebook fact-checking partner, there is the possibility of Facebook severely restricting Facebook reach for sites based upon their say-so. Therefore, perhaps consistency would be a good idea when you potentially have a significant amount of power.
Southend News Network has always existed as ‘entertaining’ fake news, as opposed to ‘harmful’ fake news, and this is where things start to get a bit interesting.
Just a few days ago, we submitted a formal complaint to ITV News after a screenshot from Southend News Network appeared alongside an image of a clearly malicious piece of fake news designed to incite Islamophobia and racial hatred. It was a piece of deliberate misinformation about Muslims being exempt from paying council tax if their home property was used as a place of worship.
Now, take a look at something else that Full Fact covered recently. Wouldn’t you Adam and Eve it? The very next thing down in their Facebook feed …
Maybe it is a coincidence. Hopefully it is a coincidence! But in any case, just remember that the mainstream media has a very significant arsenal of weapons in the war against fake news and satire.