A bombshell emerged from Facebook’s court battle with John Stossel, who is suing the company for defamation over its decision to add “fact check” labels to the libertarian pundit’s videos about climate change.
Facebook’s court filings:
Beyond this threshold Section 230 problem, the complaint also fails to state a claim for defamation. For one, Stossel fails to plead facts establishing that Meta acted with actual malice— which, as a public figure, he must. For another, Stossel’s claims focus on the fact-check articles written by Climate Feedback, not the labels affixed through the Facebook platform. The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion. And even if Stossel could attribute Climate Feedback’s separate webpages to Meta, the challenged statements on those pages are likewise neither false nor defamatory. Any of these failures would doom Stossel’s complaint, but the combination makes any amendment futile.
Facebook uses this system to distance itself from responsibility from any fact-checks, by arguing that the decisions are made by third-parties rather than the company itself. However, the company still acts on those decisions by affixing labels to posts that have been “fact checked,” and suppressing their reach on the platform.