Accuracy in Media

Activist Adriel Hampton works on pushing Facebook, a social media platform giant, to change its policies on political advertisements ahead of the 2020 election. Hampton registered as a gubernatorial candidate in California in part to test the company’s fact-checking policy.

Facebook’s fact-checking policy, according to BuzzFeed News, involves third-party contractors who work as fact-checkers and can flag “fake news” ads. The ads remain on the social media platform until they are flagged as a part of the fact-checking process.

Hampton ran several misleading political ads on Facebook, some of which made the claim that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorses the impeachment of President Donald Trump, that Fox News host Sean Hannity would become Trump’s vice president and other similar content.

Hampton’s work was profiled by BuzzFeed News, which alternative news website has been critical of Facebook’s policies and its influence in politics. BuzzFeed News has run multiple articles targeting Facebook-related news in recent months, creating the perception that BuzzFeed News has its sights on Facebook.

Overall, BuzzFeed News’s work on Facebook is usually framed in terms of Trump. This leads to questions about BuzzFeed News’s impartiality and what its end goal is with its coverage of Facebook. Also, the article quoted Hampton, who claimed Trump is using “weaponized lying” through Facebook ads, which further perpetuated the perception that BuzzFeed News covered Facebook-related news due to the platform’s integral role in Trump’s 2016 win. BuzzFeed News should make clear to its audience what its purpose is in investigating Facebook and whether there are political implications of its work.

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