The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which operates the fact-checking site PolitiFact, published an article on Thursday criticizing users of Birdwatch, Twitter's experimental crowd-sourced fact-checking platform, for failing to identify a tweet by Tim Pool as false.
The original tweet by Tim Pool cited an article from TIME Magazine asserting that the Democrats and their aligned activists manipulated the laws of numerous states in order to "fortify" the election in Joe Biden's favour. Pool had asserted that this means the election was "rigged."
Twitter shut off all retweets and replies to the tweet, asserting that there was a "risk of violence." They cite fact-checkers who note that there is no evidence of enough electoral or voter fraud to have swung the 2020 presidential election, despite Pool never claiming that voter fraud changed the results.
Users of Birdwatch rated the tweet as not misleading. According to Poynter, however, the article from TIME asserts that "powerful groups were working behind the scenes to protect election integrity," and that this context was not taken into account by Pool's tweet.
The TIME article claims that these groups "got states to change voting systems and laws" and "successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation."
Poynter claimed that the reason ordinary users were allegedly wrong in their fact-checking was because of "a lack of fact-checking expertise." "None of the top 10 users [of Birdwatch], according to their Twitter bios, are professional fact-checkers or journalists."
"Fact-checking is actually hard work in that it’s mentally demanding," PolitiFact editor-in-chief Angie Holan wrote in an email. "You really have to concentrate and push through mental inertia to identify claims and then brainstorm means of debunking or verifying them."
Despite PolitiFact being owned by Poynter, the publication did not divulge their relationship to the organization when citing them.
Poynter also criticized the fact-checkers for describing an article linking far-right motivations to investors in GameStop as "misleading" and failing to describe an article claiming Biden is soft on China the same way.
The website has previously published an article claiming that journalists should fact-check social media sites because the Chinese government believes them to be threatening.
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