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Facebook has contacted the Canadian government over a possible threat to election integrity resulting from a story published by the Buffalo Chronicle that involves Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The story in question alleges that one of Trudeau’s former students had been having sexual relations with the future Prime Minister at the age of 17 while he was teaching at West Point Grey Academy, a prestigious B.C. private school. A subsequent story further alleges that the student, who would now in her mid-30s, received $2.25 million to sign an NDA to not talk about the alleged relationship, according to the Buffalo Chronicle’s unnamed source, who they say is a friend of the woman’s family.
According to iPolitics, the story, originally published October 7, had been shared roughly 40,000 times on Facebook and caught the attention of Facebook’s fact checking partner Agence France-Presse (AFP). The AFP deemed the story “false,” which Facebook “relayed to the Privy Council Office (PCO) that it had undertaken its standard response, which the office confirmed.”
Facebook and the PCO have yet to directly answer specific questions regarding the story, story’s contents, or the connection between the two parties; however, Facebook released a brief statement regarding Facebook’s contacting the PCO.
“We have close working relationships with the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the Privy Council Office and other public authorities to ensure close co-ordination and the protection of the election,” Erin Taylor, a spokesperson for Facebook, said in response to a set of questions asking about her company’s election campaign communications with PCO,” reports iPolitics.
Despite being labelled “false” by the AFP, Facebook says it will not remove the story, as publishing a fake news story does not technically break its terms of service, and, likely, they do not want to travel too far down the slippery slope of becoming the final say in what is and isn’t truth.
However, the discrediting of the Buffalo Chronicle’s fabricated story has negatively impacted the news outlet’s credibility as a whole, with many writers contacting the outlet asking that their names be removed from their writer’s list or claiming that they never wrote for the Chronicle in the first place.