Facebook made much ado about bringing on third-party fact-checkers to curb fake news. However, it has faced accusations that the fact-checkers themselves are biased — allegedly, too many of them skew to the left. And it appears that Facebook wants to alter this perception. Quartz sources claim that Facebook has signed on conservative magazine Weekly Standard as one of its fact-checking partners. Reportedly, this is a bid to “appease all sides” by picking a publication that combines a right-wing bent with an attention to accuracy.
The Standard isn’t a shoe-in. Experts at Poynter still have to verify that the publication meets guidelines for not just fact-checking, but its transparency about sources and willingness to accept corrections if it ever makes a mistake. This could take several weeks. We’ve asked Facebook for comment on what’s happening and will let you know if it has something to add.
It’s easy to see some complaining that Facebook is including a different point of view for its own sake, aiming for perceived neutrality above all else. After all, existing partners tend to be sites dedicated to fact-checking (like PolitiFact or Snopes) while the Standard is a magazine that uses fact-checking to serve an agenda it wears on its sleeve.
With that said, the Standard may be one of Facebook’s better choices. It hired a new fact-checker in September, and Quartz‘s industry contacts understand the recruit was brought on with the Facebook partnership in mind. The magazine also tends to defy the party line when it doesn’t believe the facts line up, such as when it refuses to deny climate science (although it downplays doom-and-gloom predictions). In other words, this doesn’t appear to be an arbitrary pick — Facebook wants to be sure its media outlet choices can survive scrutiny, wherever they fall on the political spectrum.