#facebook fact-checking is becoming a political cudgel


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook’s fact-checking program is designed to stop false information from spreading. But being able to decide what’s true can also be a political weapon, and for the past few days, it’s been used in a fight over President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response.

The battle centers on a recent Politico article about a South Carolina Trump rally, where Trump urged supporters to “treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’” According to Facebook, this is a false statement that merits a prominent warning and potential damage to Politico’s ability to reach Facebook users — but the truth is more complicated.

Judd Legum’s newsletter Popular Information lays out the full contours of the controversy. Essentially, Politico’s Facebook post was flagged by Check…

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