Facebook “Fact-Checker” Lead Stories Funded By Controversial Chinese Company That Owns TikTok

Image Credits: Firn / Getty.

Facebook’s “fact-checking” partner Lead Stories is funded in part by a Chinese company called ByteDance LLC, which owns TikTok and has been accused of censorship on behalf of the country’s communist government.

Lead Stories was brought in to work with Facebook in February of 2019, “using its own technology, called ‘Trendolizer,’ to detect trending hoaxes from hundreds of known fake news sites, satirical websites and prank generators. Lead Stories specializes in hoax debunking as well as fact-checking,” according to Axios.

One such “debunked” story, was a recent video showing suspicious activity in Georgia during the 2020 election.

Lead Stories wrote, “Fact Check: Video From Georgia Does NOT Show Suitcases Filled With Ballots Suspiciously Pulled From Under A Table; Poll Watchers Were NOT Told To Leave.”

However, their “fact check” has already been thoroughly destroyed by real journalists.

Facebook is even censoring users from criticizing Lead Stories‘ fact checks, so good luck sharing this on Zuck’s anti-free speech platform.

A screenshot from the Lead Stories website shows ByteDance was one of their “main funding sources” for the year 2020.

ByteDance currently owns TikTok, but a court case could soon force them to sell the video-sharing platform to a U.S. company.

President Trump warned ByteDance on Aug. 14 that they must find a suitable buyer for TikTok’s U.S. business because the platform presented a national security risk.

So, the same company Trump sees as a potential national security threat is funding Facebook’s main “fact-checker?”

The Chinese company has also been accused of working with the nation’s communist government to censor information.

A 2019 report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre detailed how ByteDance is “engaged in deeply unethical behavior in Xinjiang, where their work directly supports and enables mass human rights abuses.”

The investigation determined, “ByteDance is uniquely susceptible to other problems that come with its closeness to the censorship and surveillance apparatus of the CCP-led state… The meteoric growth of TikTok now puts the CCP in a position where it can attempt to do the same on a largely non-Chinese speaking platform—with the help of an advanced AI-powered algorithm.”

In September 2019, The Guardian obtained leaked documents explaining, ByteDance “is advancing Chinese foreign policy aims abroad through the app.”

For example, the documents showed TikTok moderators were instructed to “censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong.”

Even the Washington Post admitted, “Chinese tech giants including ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and Huawei Technologies are working closely with the Communist Party to censor and surveil Uighur Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang.”

A Reuters article from August 2020 accused ByteDance of censoring “content it perceived as critical of the Chinese government on its news aggregator app in Indonesia from 2018 to mid-2020.”

“The sources said that local moderators were instructed by a team from ByteDance’s Beijing headquarters to delete articles seen as “negative” about Chinese authorities on the Baca Berita (BaBe) app.”

In May of 2020, former top Disney executive Kevin Mayer was made ByteDance’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Mayer most recently “oversaw the development and successful rollout of Disney+, the company’s flagship streaming service,” according to a press release announcing his hiring.

Disney’s cozy relationship with China’s communist government has been the subject of debate for years now, even reaching the level of becoming a South Park joke.

Is America satisfied with a Chinese company who has a history of censorship funding one of our nation’s top “fact-checkers?”


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