Brigitte Gabriel

Facebook

Facebook shrouded one of Brigitte Gabriel’s posts with a phony fact-check warning. Did the platform’s algorithm fail again? 

In an exclusive comment, ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel told MRC Free Speech America that “[w]hile PolitiFact and Facebook's AI clearly made the wrong call on this post and you fully expect the rating to be removed, this exposes the flawed system with how it targets conservative pages and thought specifically.” Facebook fact-checker PolitiFact claimed that Gabriel misattributed and misquoted a statement that had no quotation marks around it. Facebook initially covered Gabriel’s post with an interstitial and warned users of false information. It later removed the interstitial and fact check on the post a few hours after MRC Free Speech America notified the platform of the issue.

Gabriel posted a quote graphic that included a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) along with the words: “[s]o, if we lie to the government it’s a felony. But if they lie to us it’s politics.” Users could only view Gabriel’s post if they clicked through a warning that read: “The same false information was checked in another post by fact-checkers. There may be small differences.” The warning attached an article that Facebook fact-checking partner PolitiFact published over two years ago to correct a different graphic entirely.

The fact-check alleged that users often misattributed the quote in question to Bill Murray. PolitiFact claimed it “found no credible source crediting Murray.”

Gabriel, however, did not attribute the quote to Murray or anyone else. 

The post merely included the quote graphic and her comment: “The Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves!”

She later responded to the fact-check on Twitter. “Facebook ‘Fact Checkers’ just said my graphic was false because there is no evidence Bill Murray said this quote. Well cool, I never said he did. @PolitiFact what do you have to say for yourself?"

Fact-checks can restrain the reach of affected social media users like Gabriel. The platform openly admitted that it “significantly reduces the content’s distribution so that fewer people see [fact-checked posts].” The Associated Press reported in 2020 that Facebook said its interstitial warnings stopped 95 percent of users from clicking on the content it hides.

Gabriel explained how interstitials can be problematic for the average Facebook user. “Brigitte Gabriel has the resources and ability to fight back against this censorship,” she said, “but Joe the plumber does not.”

ACT for America is a member of the Free Speech Alliance

Facebook did not reply to MRC Free Speech America’s request for comment at the publication time.