Confidential agreements between Facebook’s parent company Meta and its fact-checking partners, such as RMIT FactLab, have sparked a major news investigation into social media censorship in Australia. Thanks to the support of Rebel News viewers who crowdfunded legal proceedings against RMIT, hidden agreements were uncovered, revealing a commercial pact worth up to half a million dollars a year.
Rebel News boss, Ezra Levant, criticized the fact-checkers, stating, “These aren’t fact-checkers; they’re regime censors in disguise.” He praised Rebel News Australia reporter Avi Yemini and independent journalist Rukshan Fernando for their work in bringing the agreement to light, highlighting how major revelations often come from persistent citizen journalism rather than large media conglomerates.
Avi noted that his case against a false fact-check by RMIT Fact Lab gained significant traction when Sky News Australia published an in-depth investigation into the powerful fact-checking industry. The revelations have ignited discussions surrounding censorship and freedom of speech, raising questions about the unchecked authority of ‘fact-checkers’ who have publicly expressed radical political agendas.
Ezra emphasized that everyone has the right to be a fact-checker and stand for truth, not just those granted special power by Meta. The lack of transparency from Meta also raised concerns among public figures like Elon Musk, who tweeted, “Facebook is manipulating the public almost everywhere on Earth. That is why they won’t open-source their algorithm.”
The investigation into the secret commercial contract between Australian academics and Meta unveiled a direct and lucrative financial relationship. The fact-checking unit could receive up to $740,000 annually from an Irish Meta subsidiary. These revelations challenge Meta’s previous claims that its fact-checking operations were independent.
Sky News’ special investigation also highlighted Meta’s violation of impartiality and transparency rules within their fact-checking systems. Concerns were raised about RMIT’s ability to obstruct Australian journalism, particularly when these actions clearly breached Meta’s endorsed IFCN Code of Principles.
Moreover, the investigation by Sky News raised further concerns about foreign-funded campaigns to silence news coverage of Australia’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum and the use of social media by academics and activists to influence the upcoming vote.
The findings from this news investigation have shed light on the behind-the-scenes agreements between Meta and its fact-checking partners, exposing the potential for censorship and manipulation of online narratives. This has prompted discussions about the need for transparency, accountability, and the protection of freedom of speech in the digital age. Citizen journalism, as exemplified by Rebel News and independent journalists like Avi Yemini, plays a crucial role in uncovering such hidden agreements and challenging the authority of fact-checkers.