Tech behemoth Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, has abruptly ceased its collaboration with its approved Australian fact-checker RMIT FactLab due to escalating allegations of prejudice.
The criticisms surfaced after a confidentail agreement was leaked in court documents in case headed by Rebel News Australia after RMIT falsely fact-checked one of its reports.
Independent journalist Rukshan Fernando obatined the secret agreement through the court and published details of the secret agreement which revealed a commercial arangement worth up to half a million dollars a year.
Sky News further investigated RMIT after one of its own stories was falsely fact-checked by the FactLab team, branding its report as "false information" on Facebook leading to widespread criticism, even from ABC's left-leaning Media Watch program.
The network's host Peta Credlin reported that the Uluru Statement from the Heart spans 26 pages, contradicting popular belief. In spite of Credlin's claims being backed by a Freedom of Information request from the National Indigenous Australians Agency, FactLab stood its ground.
Adding fuel to the fire, RMIT’s FactLab lacked a current accreditation from the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a key factor in Meta’s decision.
However, details of the requirement for RMIT to hold a current IFCN accreditation were not made public until documents were tendered to the court in a case funded by Rebel News viewers. Meta cited this previously unknown fact, unearthed by our legal action, as a key reason for ending its relationship with the University's FactLab team.
Mia Garlick, Meta’s regional policy director, confirmed the move, stating they had become aware of RMIT's lack of IFCN accreditation and the potential bias in their fact checks.
“Considering these allegations and the imminent Voice referendum, we're suspending our collaboration with RMIT FactLab,” Garlick added.
Senator James Paterson highlighted Meta’s involvement as problematic, pointing out the potential consequences of a global tech company potentially influencing the outcome of a significant Australian constitutional change.
WATCH: Avi Yemini and Ezra Levant discuss the importance of exposing fake fact checkers.
As a backdrop, just a month earlier, Meta announced their dedication to curbing what it views as misinformation related to the voice referendum. Anne Kruger of RMIT FactLab had expressed gratitude for the then-support.
Interestingly, despite the revealed expiration of RMIT's IFCN certification last December, their website, as of Tuesday, maintained their status as Meta's third-party fact-checkers.
Previously Elon Musk, owner of X, responded to concerns about Meta's fact-checkers lack of transparency, posting "Facebook is manipulating the public almost everywhere on Earth. That is why they won’t open source their algorithm."