Who checks the fact checkers, and who pays them actually?

They cannot be impartial or unbiased.

HOW much fact could a fact checker check if a fact checker could check facts?

by WILL BURNS



Big tech and highly philanthropic businesses have put their hands in their deep pockets in an effort to combat misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theory relating to the pandemic. Global conglomerates such as Google and Facebook have donated millions of pounds to specialist covid-19 myth busting units.


Media outlets across the world are outsourcing their information scrutiny by using ‘certified’ fact checking entities.


There are numerous sites available, such as Snopes, Politifact and ProPublica. In the UK, we have the forerunning London-based charity Full Fact. They were set up in 2009

to fight ‘bad information’ by using a ‘team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm it does’.


In America, there is the popular ‘non-partisan’, non-profit Factcheck. org who have the mission to ‘reduce the level of deception and confusion’.


These online platforms have large sections of their webpages aimed at the pandemic – many having their own dedicated covid misinformation pages.


They scour social media, newspapers, websites and broadcasting to find anything that goes against the mainstream view of the pandemic. They then seek to counter and discredit these opinions and statistics in an effort to ‘protect people from harmful content which may discourage them from being vaccinated’.


Examples of Factcheck.org headlines include: ‘Japan Continues to Use Vaccines, Not Ivermectin, to Fight Covid-19’ (November 4, 2021), ‘Why It’s Easy to Misinterpret Numbers of Deaths Among the Vaccinated (November 1, 2021), ‘Tucker Carlson Misrepresents Vaccine Safety Reporting Data’ (October 26, 2021).


Full Fact headlines follow in a similar vein: ‘Guardian wrong to suggest unvaccinated deaths are the majority currently’ (November 5, 2021), ‘Vaccine rap battle full of misinformation’ (October 20, 2021), ‘Trafalgar Square “Freedom Rally” speech littered with false claims’ (August 19, 2021).


Both Full Fact and Factcheck.org claim to have a remit of independence and neutrality. They state that the people they hire to check facts are unbiased and that any funding they receive will not influence their editorial control in any way.

However, when you look into the funding streams of the fact checkers it becomes clear that companies with an ulterior motive are infiltrating them.


Factcheck.org’s covid-19 misinformation page, with titles such as ‘How do people who have not been vaccinated against covid-19 pose a risk to people who have been vaccinated?’ are sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Does the name ‘Johnson’ ring any bells? How about ‘Johnson and Johnson’? The 80 billion dollar a year medical and pharmaceutical company are makers of the new one-shot covid vaccine, and issuer of millions of already administered covid shots. In the 12 months leading up to June 2021, Factcheck.org were also funded by Google ($104,000), Facebook ($389,925) and the Annenberg Foundation ($406,159).


The Annenberg Foundation, built upon the wealth of Walter Annenberg’s Triangle Media, claim to be a philanthropic foundation dedicated to ‘addressing the critical issues of our time’. Perhaps one reason they can claim to be so benevolent is their sizeable endowment portfolio, worth $1.33 billion according to their 2019 financial overview.


Part of this portfolio includes corporate stocks in British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca PLC ($794,270), German multi- national pharmaceutical Bayer AG ($129,623) and Hong Kong based Sino Biopharmaceutical ($93,727). They also have investment bonds in Forest Laboratories (now Allergan plc - a global pharmaceutical company), as well as many other medical health and insurance companies.


The Annenberg Foundation are themselves funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – who, according to Bill Gates’s own blog (gatesnotes.com), have a total investment of $1.75 billion in covid- 19-related industries such as the Pfizer/ BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines and mRNA technologies.


Full Fact are also the beneficiaries of ‘philanthropy’. In 2020, they were given £235,000 from Google.


Nearly half of this (£115,000) was purely for ‘covid-19 fact checking’ according to their website. They were also gifted £583,000 from Facebook, of which £325,000 was to support a ‘framework for collaboration during misinformation crises’.


Conglomerates such as Google and Facebook own, between them, the world’s largest internet search engine and social media outlets such as Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and YouTube – so what is their motivation in preserving the ‘truth’ of the pandemic?


You have to dig a little deeper to understand their philanthropy and anxiety towards covid misinformation. Both Google and Facebook have investment arms – and this is where it gets a little complicated. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, runs an investment arm called Gradient Ventures (Formerly Google Ventures), who are invested in immunotherapy and vaccine company Vaccitech. This particular Oxford start-up just happens to own the biotech platform behind the AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine.


Facebook’s investment in the pandemic and subsequent interests in squashing any objection could relate to one of their biggest investors.

Aside from Mr Zuckerberg himself, Facebook’s next biggest investor is Vanguard. They own nearly 68 million shares of Facebook (now Meta) with a market value of more than $22 billion as of April 30, 2021 according to Investopedia.


Vanguard, an investment advisory multinational, have massive stock holdings in covid-19 vaccine makers Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Novavax, as well as Merck, the makers of the new ‘wonderdrug’ - Molnupiravir.


The answer to the riddle is not always clear. How do you decide on the virtue of the fact checkers?

Are they calling ‘hoax’ on anything anti-pandemic narrative for the good of the people, or for the good of their own investors’ reputations? They may indeed be unbiased, free from the editorial eavesdropping of Big Tech or Big Pharma - but imagine if a restaurant critic was paid by the restaurant to leave a review. Would you trust it?


To find the motivation behind the vehement defence of the pandemic and vaccines there may be two paths to follow:

(A) Take the left path and you follow the mainstream narrative – you believe in the pandemic and vaccines.

You believe that companies such as Google and Facebook, as well as charities like the Annenberg Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are financially and morally invested in the greater good - the health and wellbeing of the world. All is good.


(B) Take the right path, and you believe that the world is influenced by shady, vast entities such as Vanguard and Blackrock, who are capable of manipulating everything you hear, see and do. Their trillions upon trillions of dark money are used to control media and politics in a merry-go-round of greed and deception.

All is not well.


The choice is yours, but next time you see or hear someone claim ‘fact check’, ask yourself – who paid for it?



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