Meta fact-checkers agreement REVEALED in Avi Yemini lawsuit

Secret agreement reveals quota-based commercial fact-checking arrangement worth up to half a million dollars a year.

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Court documents have exposed a secretive fact-checking agreement between social media giant Meta and RMIT University's FactLab in Australia.

The confidential third-party fact-checker agreement came to light during Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini's defamation case against RMIT FactLab over a false fact-check on one of his reports.

The document provides crucial insights into the undisclosed pact between Meta and RMIT FactLab, where the university's fact-checking department is contracted to deliver up to 50 fact-checking articles each month, aimed at combating what it views as 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' in Australia.

This agreement, believed to be worth nearly half a million dollars annually, raises questions about the independence and motivations of the fact-checking organisations involved.

Independent journalist Rukshan Fernando obtained the court documents during an investigation into Meta's involvement after the owner of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter clone Threads first piqued his curiosity with its collaboration with Australian electoral authorities.

He uncovered that Meta would work with third-party fact-checkers to identify 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' surrounding the controversial Voice to Parliament referendum on their platforms.

As part of this initiative, Meta announced funding for organisations like RMIT FactLab, Australian Associated Press, and others, without disclosing the extent of commercial arrangements.

The court documents obtained through Yemini's legal case shed light on the financial side of this arrangement.

According to the agreement, Meta will pay RMIT FactLab $800 for each explanatory article, with the potential to publish up to 50 articles per month, resulting in a maximum monthly payment of $40,000.

This raises concerns about the financial incentives driving fact-checking efforts and potentially compromising the organisations' independence.

RMIT University, the parent institution of RMIT FactLab, publicly claims to fund the fact-checking division through philanthropic donations and independent research grants.

However, the document reveals a commercial agreement with Meta that goes undisclosed on their website. This lack of transparency raises questions about the true nature of their partnership.

Fernando expresses his concern over the involvement of these fact-checking companies in Australia's political landscape.

The fact-checkers, while presented as independent organisations, are contracted commercially with the lack of transparency in their funding sources and their association with Meta raise doubts about the integrity of their fact-checking processes.

He also points out that RMIT FactLab's fact-checking records appear to be biased towards certain positions, notably favouring the "Yes" vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum.

As Meta's influence continues to grow, it becomes paramount to ensure that such partnerships are transparent and independent, especially when fact-checkers play a significant role in shaping public discourse and information dissemination.

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