The ABC has made a significant investment of over $670,000 in a collaborative fact-checking initiative with RMIT University. This funding, which amounts to $165,000 per year since 2020, has been used to support staff, equipment, and operational costs of the program. The aim of this initiative is to verify the accuracy of claims made by public figures and politicians.
However, this investment has come under scrutiny, particularly in light of allegations that the RMIT ABC Fact Check and FactLab departments have engaged in questionable fact checks and censored content. Liberal senator James Paterson raised concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money, highlighting the fact that the RMIT ABC Fact Check unit has lost its International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) certification, which expired in December last year.
Paterson criticized the ABC’s partnership with RMIT, stating that over half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money has been funneled into a fact-checking unit that is not accredited and faces accusations of bias. He called on the ABC to reassess its partnership with RMIT and to consider alternative approaches.
RMIT ABC Fact Check responded to the criticism by emphasizing that its work focuses on verifying the accuracy of claims made by politicians, public figures, and advocacy groups involved in public debate. The department also clarified that its operations are not reliant on IFCN accreditation.
The controversy surrounding RMIT ABC Fact Check’s credibility has led to actions from other organizations. Tech giant Meta has suspended its partnership with RMIT FactLab following complaints of bias related to the voice referendum. Despite these concerns, RMIT maintains that the funding provided by the ABC is crucial for the staffing and operations of its Fact Check unit. The university asserts that its objective is to arm the public with facts rather than pushing any particular agenda.
While the ABC has not commented on the matter, it recently published a fact-check disputing comments made by Senator Jacinta Price on the negative impacts of colonization. The fact-check noted that “experts disagree” with Price’s stance.
The ABC’s investment in fact-checking initiatives highlights its commitment to providing accurate and reliable information to the public. However, the controversy surrounding RMIT ABC Fact Check’s accreditation and alleged bias underscores the importance of maintaining transparency and accountability in fact-checking processes. The ABC should take these concerns into consideration and ensure that its partnerships and initiatives remain grounded in unbiased and rigorous fact-checking practices.