Factually is a newsletter about fact-checking and accountability journalism, from Poynters International Fact-Checking Network & the American Press Institutes Accountability Project. Sign up here
The major social media platforms arent always in lockstep on what content they moderate. But this week, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were all on the same page in blocking a video of a group called Americas Frontline Doctors touting the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19, contrary to scientific evidence. One of the doctors said you dont need masks to halt the spread of the virus.
By now, the story of the video is well known the retweets by President Donald Trump and his son, the fact-checks that followed, and the bizarre beliefs of one of the doctors involved, Stella Immanuel.
What happened in the days after that, though, is key in understanding the methods and tactics of people who push unproven cures and other falsehoods and then have their content blocked: The blocking itself and the claims of censorship that follow become part of the attempt to get attention.
The day after the video of their Washington press conference was removed, the white-coated doctors were out again talking about the same messages, but with an added angle: They were being silenced.
Were coming after you Big Tech, were coming after you, said Simone Gold, one of the doctors leading the effort. We wont be silenced,
The censorship message then took off among the doctors supporters on Twitter and other platforms.
This is a common tactic among groups that champion unconventional messages. The censorship claim becomes central to their efforts to control the narrative, said Aimee Rinehart, U.S. deputy director of the nonprofit organization First Draft, which fights disinformation.
Cries that Big Tech is censoring us! become part of the attention grab, she said, even though the platforms are clear that they will only remove content that spreads false information about the coronavirus or messages that suppress the vote.
The doctors events were also held the same week that the CEOs of Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple (Twitter was not among them) were testifying before a House subcommittee, which is probing the power of the tech companies. So it was convenient timing for the doctors, since there was a good chance that the platforms decision to take down the video would come up in the hearing, and it did.
In short, the doctors were successful in inserting their cause into the hearing, in effect, using the platforms content moderation decision to extend what might otherwise have been written off as a one-news-cycle fringe event.
Susan Benkelman, API
This week, Brazillian fact-checking organizations Agncia Lupa and Aos Fatos debunked a claim that citrus fruit peels contain the same basic ingredients as chloroquine and ivermectin.
Chloroquine has been shown to be ineffective at treating COVID-19 according to studies by both the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ivermectin, a medicine used to treat heartworm in animals and roundworm in humans, has shown some promise in early studies to treat COVID-19, but has not been properly vetted and approved to treat the disease.
Both fact-checkers talked to experts who explained both chloroquine and ivermectin are created through combining other chemicals in laboratory settings. They do not exist in citrus fruit peels. Both also noted misinformation about using citrus to treat COVID-19 is not new, and put this latest hoax in that context.
What we liked: This is a unique fact-check that builds on the work fact-checkers have been doing throughout the infodemic. It reiterates the current scientific understanding about the efficacy of chloroquine, and recognizes the trope of citrus fruits being used to treat COVID-19. This falsehood is a combination of those two narratives, and Aos Fatos and Agncia Lupa unpack that for their readers.
Harrison Mantas, IFCN
Thats it for this week! Feel free to send feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if this newsletter was forwarded to you, or if youre reading it on the web, you can subscribe here. Thanks for reading.
Susan and Harrison
- Barcelona members strike back vs. Bartomeu: What does 'motion of censorship' mean, and what's next? - ESPN - September 18th, 2020
- What the *, Nintendo? This in-game censorship is * terrible. - EFF - September 18th, 2020
- Social media censorship in Egypt targets women on TikTok - The World - September 18th, 2020
- Trumps Partial TikTok And WeChat Ban Tip-Toes Into Chinese-Style Censorship - Forbes - September 18th, 2020
- Judd Apatow Criticizes Hollywood's Censorship For International Market: China Has Bought Our Silence With Their Money - Deadline - September 18th, 2020
- Bangladesh in the Shadow of Censorship The Diplomat - The Diplomat - September 18th, 2020
- Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? - Telegraph.co.uk - September 18th, 2020
- Not Content to Censor Conservatives, Zuckerberg Now Seeks to Meddle in Election - National Legal and Policy Center - September 18th, 2020
- New Alliance to Track and Fight Censoring of Conservatives - CBN News - September 18th, 2020
- Reading the Evolution of Censorship and Sedition in India - The Wire - September 18th, 2020
- China's Influence on the Global Human Rights System - Human Rights Watch - September 18th, 2020
- China Isn't Hiding the Border Tensions With India From Its Public Anymore - The Diplomat - September 18th, 2020
- Censorship - Wikipedia - September 6th, 2020
- What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union - September 6th, 2020
- Call Trumps Attacks On The 1619 Project What They Are Censorship of American History - Forbes - September 6th, 2020
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- Joe Rogans Spotify move condemned by fans over right-wing censorship claims - The Independent - September 6th, 2020
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- Facebook is changing its Terms of Service, and users are not happy - Windows Central - September 6th, 2020
- End the blacklist of the World Socialist Web Site on Reddit! - WSWS - September 6th, 2020
- Kahle: Upholding the public trust - The Register-Guard - September 6th, 2020
- Science protections must be enforceable | TheHill - The Hill - September 6th, 2020
- Reddit isnt happy about President Trumps anti-censorship executive order - Reclaim The Net - September 6th, 2020
- Forget TikTok. Chinas Powerhouse App Is WeChat. - The New York Times - September 6th, 2020
- The shaky upcoming national election environment can be fixed - JNS.org - September 6th, 2020
- Censorship on social media? It's not what you think - CBS News - September 4th, 2020
- Kyle Rittenhouse lawyer Lin Wood threatens to sue Twitter over censorship - Reclaim The Net - September 4th, 2020
- Finding human territory in a fractured world - The Tech - September 4th, 2020
- We dont believe in censorship: Controversial Aboriginal commentator to lead WA festival amid fear of backlash from Noongar people - WAtoday - September 4th, 2020
- How WeChat Censored the Coronavirus Pandemic - WIRED - August 28th, 2020
- Voter Advocacy Orgs Sue Trump Administration for Executive Order Threatening Social Media Censorship - EFF - August 28th, 2020
- Kuwait eases censorship laws after banning 5000 titles in last 7 years - The Indian Express - August 28th, 2020
- Buffy's Amber Benson on censorship, the musical, and Tara's death - digitalspy.com - August 28th, 2020
- Kuwait relaxes book censorship laws after banning thousands of titles - The Guardian - August 28th, 2020
- Film and Publications Amendment Act: Protecting, not censoring, our citizens in the digital age - Daily Maverick - August 28th, 2020
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- Artists Ai Weiwei and Fang Fang's depictions of the Wuhan lockdown - DW (English) - August 28th, 2020
- A Radioactive Plague: The secrecy and censorship surrounding civilian deaths from World War II - Milwaukee Independent - August 10th, 2020
- Censorship on the internet in 2020: The potential effects of TikTok - Film Daily - August 10th, 2020
- Wicker: Time to address online censorship - The Vicksburg Post - Vicksburg Post - August 10th, 2020
- Open Technology Fund Authorization Act - BORGEN - Borgen Project - August 10th, 2020
- The Logic of a US WeChat Ban - The Diplomat - August 10th, 2020
- Ben Domenech Clashes With Joe Trippi Over Censorship Of Trump's Social Media - The Federalist - August 10th, 2020
- German Analysis Institute Regrets Censorship of a Professional Science Assertion - The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette - August 10th, 2020
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- Twitter censors all links to BitChute - Reclaim The Net - August 10th, 2020
- Fear of Authoritarian Regimes Is Pushing the Film Industry to Self-Censor - Foreign Affairs Magazine - August 10th, 2020
- Facebook is wrong to censor Donald Trump - The Spectator USA - August 10th, 2020
- Education, not censorship, must be used to tackle online antisemitism - The Jerusalem Post - August 10th, 2020
- Why Did Facebook Censor This Video Of President Trump? - The Hayride - August 10th, 2020
- Lawyer concerned that 'internet censorship bill' may be used as a political tool - CapeTalk - August 10th, 2020
- Brother Nut, the Artist, Taking Vow of Silence to Protest Chinas Censorship - VOA Asia - August 8th, 2020
- Researchers slowly discover censorship doesnt work - Reclaim The Net - August 8th, 2020
- Setlist: Wiley, Twitter and the online censorship debate - Complete Music Update - August 8th, 2020
- The line between legislating in opposition to disinformation and censorship could be very skinny - Pledge Times - August 8th, 2020
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- Lee says Google, Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservative voices - Deseret News - August 7th, 2020
- The White Houses plan to purge Chinese tech from the internet is just bluster for now - The Verge - August 7th, 2020
- Is the Gov't Outsourcing Censorship Duties to FB & Google? - The Jewish Voice - August 7th, 2020
- Turkey takes Germany's hate speech law, and makes it much worse with its own censorship and data localization rules - Privacy News Online - August 6th, 2020
- Op-ed: Censorship and higher taxes won't create more Apples, Amazons, Facebooks and Googles - CNBC - August 6th, 2020
- Pence Says Administration Will 'Lean Into' Issue of Tech Censorship - Newsmax - August 6th, 2020
- GreatFire introduces app maker to bypass Chinas censorship - Reclaim The Net - August 6th, 2020
- Facebook removes pro-Trump ad aimed at Joe Biden, claiming false information - Fox News - August 6th, 2020
- #SavetheChildren Ban? Facebook Censors 'Save the Children' - Heavy.com - August 6th, 2020
- Censorship or fighting disinformation? Russia to use AI to create controversial fake news filter, as Facebook efforts stall - RT - August 6th, 2020
- The Italian journalist sets fire to Instagram bordering on censorship with her first bath - Explica - August 6th, 2020
- Facebook censors hydroxychloroquine praise, even in countries where its an official treatment - Reclaim The Net - August 6th, 2020
- Theft, censorship and the emperors of the online economy: Tech CEOs go on defense - POLITICO - August 4th, 2020
- How the New York Times profits from self-censorship - The Spectator USA - August 4th, 2020
- Some Facebook mods support the ads boycott, call for more censorship - Reclaim The Net - August 4th, 2020
- South Park: Why Episodes "200" and "201" Were Banned - Screen Rant - August 4th, 2020
- Free speech risk as university staff feel need to censor pro-Brexit views - The Scotsman - August 4th, 2020
- Greg Gutfeld on conservative censorship: 'Abuse only goes one way' - Fox News - August 3rd, 2020