by Zero Hedge

Authored by Petr Svab via the Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

While Facebook portrays its army of fact-checkers as independent, the money behind at least one carries a distinct taint. One fact-checker, Lead Stories, is partly paid through its partnership with TikTok, a social media platform run by a Chinese company that owes its allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). TikTok is currently being probed by American authorities as a national security threat.

Moreover, the organization that’s supposed to oversee the quality of fact-checkers is run by Poynter Institute, another TikTok partner

Lead Stories says it’s been contracted by ByteDance “for fact checking related work” referring to TikTok’s announcement earlier this year that it has partnered with several organizations “to further aid our efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation,” particularly regarding the CCP virus pandemic which originated in China and was exacerbated by the CCP regime’s coverup.

Lead Stories was started in 2015 by Belgian website developer Maarten Schenk, CNN veteran Alan Duke, and two lawyers from Florida and Colorado. It listed operating expenses of less than $50,000 in 2017, but had expanded seven-fold by 2019, largely thanks to the more than $460,000 Facebook paid it for fact-checking services in 2018 and 2019. The company took on more than a dozen staffers, about half of them CNN alumni, and became one of Facebook’s most prolific fact-checkers of American content.

This year, the funding sources included Google, Facebook, ByteDance, and several online advertising services. Advertising brought it less than $25,000 last year, the group said.

“The bulk” of the funding still comes from Facebook, it says.

Part of its revenue comes from subscriptions to “Trendolizer,” its viral content tracking tool. “For privacy reasons we cannot reveal the list of Trendolizer users … but none of them individually accounted for more than 5% of our revenue,” it says.

The Trendolizer website only shows three pages “powered” by it: Trendolizer.com, LeadStories.com, and StoryTide.com, a news aggregator started by LeadStories in 2016.

Lead Stories didn’t respond to emailed questions.

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