Last Thursday, Sky News reported that an assessor for the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network—a network of fact-checking outlets who have signed on to and demonstrated compliance with a code of principles—was “unashamedly politically biased.” Sky News reported that the assessor, Dr. Margot Susca, has declared herself a member of “Team Hilary” and made other similarly partisan comments on social media and in interviews. This reporting was later picked up by Mark Levin and The Post Millennial.
(It should be noted that The Dispatch Fact Check is among the outlets that Susca reviewed in her role as an assessor. The applications Susca recommended, along with her comments on each one, can be seen on the IFCN website.)
Sky News later corrected the article to note that, in fact, Susca is not in charge of appointing fact checkers, with a note saying: “This article has been amended to reflect the fact that grant of a licence is made by the IFCN Board following assessment and recommendations from external assessors such as Ms Susca.” The language throughout the article was updated accordingly, with the article now reading that Susca “approves and recommends organisations to become Facebook fact-checkers.” The article, however, still provides scant details on how fact-checkers are approved, and the uncorrected video still remains on Sky News’ website. No correction has been issued by a number of other outlets that picked up the story, with conservative commentator Mark Levin running a segment on his Blaze TV show with the outdated information after Sky News issued its correction.
Sky News initially reported that Susca “is the supposedly independent expert in charge of who can become a Facebook fact-checker.” Susca is not an employee of Facebook, but rather works as an assessor for the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network. While Facebook partners with IFCN signatories, being accepted into IFCN is only part of the process for an outlet to become a third-party fact-checking partner with Facebook.