RMIT University's FactLab, recently suspended from Facebook and Instagram's fact-checking operations, is under increased scrutiny after revealing undisclosed financial agreements with Meta.
Investigative journalist, Rukshan Fernando, exposed modifications to the FactLab website, raising alarms on the timing and reasons behind them.
Sushi Das, Assistant Director of RMIT FactLab and founder of its "fact-checking" processes, now finds herself at the centre of the controversy. ABC has now deleted Das' profile from its website, in what is seen as a move to avoid further association with the escalating scandal.
Yesterday, Das cited a Crikey article, penned by left-wing scribe Cam Wilson, in her defence.
The article suggests that RMIT FactLab is likely to have its International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) membership renewed. Wilson's report insinuates that the uproar might be driven by the "Voice to Parliament’s No campaign" and "News Corp". Intriguingly, he also noted on social media:
"Interesting, I counted 20 (!) current Meta fact checking partners who also have expired IFCN status who remain on the books." This statement throws shade on the integrity of multiple IFCN "approved fact checkers", implying that they, akin to RMIT and ABC, don't satisfy the requisite standards for fact-checking news pieces.
Previously, revelations regarding RMIT FactLab's undisclosed financial ties and IFCN requirements with Meta were made public during Avi Yemini’s defamation case.
Additionally, connections between RMIT FactLab and ABC have been removed from RMIT's website, after it was revealed that ABC's fact-checking wing also had lapsed IFCN credentials.
With these revelations, there's growing apprehension about the influence and transparency of supposed 'open fact check' institutions.
The ongoing scandal is compelling many to reassess the credibility of fact-checking bodies, as they play pivotal roles during crucial moments like global pandemics and constitutional referendums in sovereign nations like Australia.