Apparently, including even one conservative voice on Facebook's roster of approved "fact checkers" is too much for liberal partisans in Silicon Valley. Case in point: As the Guardian reports, the social media giant's decision to formally include conservative magazine the Weekly Standard (a magazine best known in recent years for its staunch #NeverTrump stance) on its roster of fact checkers has prompted an outcry from liberals who have accused the site of bending to criticism from right-wing groups.
In other words, the outcry is because Facebook, a platform with roughly 2 billion users that has been called out for suppressing conservative views, has incorporated the concerns of roughly half the American electorate into an initiative that will greatly impact how content is displayed and shared on the social network.
What's more, Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute of Media Studies (the organization that's responsible for approving Facebook's fact checkers), gave the WS his organization's stamp of approval, claiming that the magazine had demonstrated adherence to the IFCN code of principles. The magazine has an internal fact-checking operation and has committed to not writing opinion pieces. The Standard was founded in the mid-1990s by Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz with support from Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. It was initially intended to be an opinion magazine with a conservative bent meant to counter the popularity of liberal magazines like the Nation.
While the magazine distinguished itself during the run up to the 2016 vote due to its opposition to Trump, it has consistently angered liberals and members of progressive "watchdog" groups, as the Guardian explains.
Though the Weekly Standard is distinct from far-right publications like Breitbart that are known for publishing propaganda and misinformation, some have questioned whether it was an appropriate partner for Facebook given its ideological bent.
"I'm really disheartened and disturbed by this," said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a progressive watchdog group that published numerous criticisms of the Weekly Standard after the partnership was first rumored in October. "They have described themselves as an opinion magazine. They are supposed to be thought leaders."
Calling the magazine a "serial misinformer," Media Matters cited the Weekly Standard's role in pushing false and misleading claims about Obamacare, Hillary Clinton and other political stories.
In recent years, the magazine also faced backlash for giving a platform to a contrarian climate scientist and for sending an anti-gay marketing email warning of the "homosexual lobby" and its "perverted vision for a homosexual America."
Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of the Facebook fact-checking partner Snopes.com, said she didn't have specific concerns about the Weekly Standard, but was worried about the broader implications of Facebook choosing to rely on a partisan conservative outlet.