The Machiavellian quote (sic) that “if you’re going to come at the king, you best not miss,” may be about to bite Mark Zuckerberg and his army of fact-checking mercenaries.
While Zuckerberg may feel omnipotent atop his opaque algo-world but the so-called ‘fact-checkers’ – so expert at shutting down any narrative-conflicting-information (on behalf of, and often at the behest of, the Biden administration) – may have met their match by claiming that one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals delivered “false information” that “could mislead people.”
As we detailed in early November, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) – a weekly peer-reviewed medical trade journal, published by the trade union the British Medical Association – published a whistleblower report calling into question data integrity and regulatory oversight issues surrounding Pfizer’s pivotal phase III Covid-19 vaccine trial.
Brook Jackson, a now-fired regional director at Ventavia Research Group, revealed to The BMJ that vaccine trials at several sites in Texas last year had major problems – including falsified data, broke fundamental rules, and were ‘slow’ to report adverse reactions.
When she notified superiors of the issues she found, they fired her.
A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. -The BMJ
Very soon after, as the worrisome story went viral, BMJ soon would get a taste of what Facebook, Google, and others are doing to independent media platforms. As TrialSiteNews.com reports, even though BMJ is one of the most prominent medical journals and the information was rigorously peer-reviewed, strange things started occurring.
For example, readers would try to post some of the information on social media such as Facebook to share with their networks. But “some reported being unable to share it [the information].” Moreover, those individuals that were simply sharing this content, peer-reviewed from The BMJ, were warned by Facebook that, “Independent fact-checkers concluded, “This information could mislead people.”
Moreover, they were told, “Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share ‘false information’ might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed.”
In addition, some group administrators received notices from Facebook that the information was “partly false.”
Readers were sent to a “fact check” performed by Lead Stories, a third-party fact-checker.
And so, as possibly the top experts in the world when it comes to medical research information, BMJ has now been forced to fact-check the ‘fact-checkers’.
In a no-holds-barred ‘open letter to Mark Zuckerberg’, the editors exposed that ‘fact-check’ as “inaccurate, incompetent, and irresponsible.”
Having received no response from Facebook or from Lead Stories, after requesting the removal of the “fact checking” label, the BMJ’s editors raise a “wider concern”:
We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime…
Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task.
Fact checking has been a staple of good journalism for decades.
What has happened in this instance should be of concern to anyone who values and relies on sources such as The BMJ.
In addition to the points raised by BMJ and in the comments below, there is a limit to what independent fact checking can accomplish.
For example, are their fact checkers conducting their own scientific experiments validating claims and outcomes of a scientific paper? Are fact checkers reaching out to sources from a news article and verifying quoted information? When “breaking news” or “scoops” are reported presenting totally new information about the world, how can that be verified against other information that – by virtue of something being new – cannot be verified by other preexisting sources?
If the fact checking process is limited to verification based on other information that is currently available, and if the fact checking process cannot distinguish between factual information and the opinions people hold as a result of that information, the outcome will be an inevitable echo chamber that reinforces currently dominant views or whatever preexisting biases are present.
…and that is exactly what the establishment wants.
* * *
Full letter from The BMJ below (emphasis ours):
Open letter from The BMJ to Mark Zuckerberg
Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
We are Fiona Godlee and Kamran Abbasi, editors of The BMJ, one of the world’s oldest and most influential general medical journals. We are writing to raise serious concerns about the “fact checking” being undertaken by third party providers on behalf of Facebook/Meta.
In September, a former employee of Ventavia, a contract research company helping carry out the main Pfizer covid-19 vaccine trial, began providing The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. These materials revealed a host of poor clinical trial research practices occurring at Ventavia that could impact data integrity and patient safety. We also discovered that, despite receiving a direct complaint about these problems over a year ago, the FDA did not inspect Ventavia’s trial sites.
The BMJ commissioned an investigative reporter to write up the story for our journal. The article was published on 2 November, following legal review, external peer review and subject to The BMJ’s usual high level editorial oversight and review.
But from November 10, readers began reporting a variety of problems when trying to share our article. Some reported being unable to share it. Many others reported having their posts flagged with a warning about “Missing context … Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share “false information” might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed. Group administrators where the article was shared received messages from Facebook informing them that such posts were “partly false.”
Readers were directed to a “fact check” performed by a Facebook contractor named Lead Stories.
We find the “fact check” performed by Lead Stories to be inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible.
- It fails to provide any assertions of fact that The BMJ article got wrong
- It has a nonsensical title: “Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Reveal Disqualifying And Ignored Reports Of Flaws In Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Trials”
- The first paragraph inaccurately labels The BMJ a “news blog”
- It contains a screenshot of our article with a stamp over it stating “Flaws Reviewed,” despite the Lead Stories article not identifying anything false or untrue in The BMJ article
- It published the story on its website under a URL that contains the phrase “hoax-alert”
We have contacted Lead Stories, but they refuse to change anything about their article or actions that have led to Facebook flagging our article.
We have also contacted Facebook directly, requesting immediate removal of the “fact checking” label and any link to the Lead Stories article, thereby allowing our readers to freely share the article on your platform.
There is also a wider concern that we wish to raise. We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime. To give one other example, we would highlight the treatment by Instagram (also owned by Meta) of Cochrane, the international provider of high quality systematic reviews of the medical evidence. Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task. Fact checking has been a staple of good journalism for decades. What has happened in this instance should be of concern to anyone who values and relies on sources such as The BMJ.
We hope you will act swiftly: specifically to correct the error relating to The BMJ’s article and to review the processes that led to the error; and generally to reconsider your investment in and approach to fact checking overall.
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
Kamran Abbasi, incoming editor in chief
As current and incoming editors in chief, we are responsible for everything The BMJ contains.
It appears the ‘fact-checkers’ have some facts of their own to check… or otherwise admit they are simply there – as Fauci and Collins collusion was exposed this week – to maintain the propaganda peace for whoever is pulling the strings.