Top Editors from the British Medical Journal (The BMJ) have a message for Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook: get your fact-checkers in line, ASAP. As part of one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals, the senior editors express real concern about third-party fact-checkers employed by Facebook/Meta. This complaint surfaces based on the issues of potentially fraudulent or faulty data associated with Pfizer contract research organization Ventavia.
TrialSite wrote that The BMJ authored a critical piece investigating bombshell evidence that poor practices and quality control issues surfaced during the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. Meticulously researched based on whistleblower documentation, the critical review, authored by Paul Thacker in the peer-review journal, raised eyebrows if not more.
However, The BMJ soon would get a taste of what Facebook, Google, and others are doing to independent media platforms such as the TrialSite. Even though The BMJ is one of the most prominent medical journals and the information was rigorously peer-reviewed, strange things started occurring.
For example, readers would try to post some of the information on social media such as Facebook to share with their networks. But “some reported being unable to share it [the information].” Moreover, as it turns out, “Independent fact-checkers concluded, “This formation could mislead people.” Those individuals that were simply sharing this content, peer-reviewed from The BMJ, were warned by Facebook that “This information could mislead people.” Moreover, they were told, “Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share ‘false information’ might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed.” In addition, some group administrators received notices from Facebook that the information was “partly false.”
Then readers were sent to a “fact check” performed by Lead Stories, a third-party fact-checker. Yet as possibly the top experts on the planet when it comes to medical research information, The BMJ now has to fact-check the fact-checkers, much like TrialSite has continuously had to do, finding the fact-checkers are, of course, incorrect.
The BMJ editor’s note the following:
∙ It fails to provide any assertions of fact that The BMJ article got wrong
∙ It has a nonsensical title: “Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Reveal Disqualifying And Ignored Reports Of Flaws In Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Trials”
∙ The first paragraph inaccurately labels The BMJ a “news blog”
∙ It contains a screenshot of our article with a stamp over it stating “Flaws Reviewed,” despite the Lead Stories article not identifying anything false or untrue in The BMJ article
∙ It published the story on its website under a URL that contains the phrase “hoax-alert”
Note The BMJ editors contacted Lead Stories but they stand resolute that they are not incorrect. Now Facebook flags The BMJ article.
An Incompetent Fact-Checking Regimen
Both Ms. Godlee and Mr. Abbasi have a message for Facebook—your fact-checkers are “incompetent.” The social network had better get their act together, is the message. While they are at it, they should be reminded that Jen Psaki was on the record that high-level White House operatives were feeding Facebook information as to what was misinformation versus credible real information. For reference, we include The Hill piece on Psaki’s comments. Perhaps The BMJ should put Ms. Psaki on their list too as well as whoever those “senior” White House staff were that were “suggesting” to offer Facebook help.
As Dr. Ron Brown, a TrialSite contributor, asked over the summer: Does White House Spread Misinformation about Spreading Vaccine Misinformation?
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
Kamran Abbasi, incoming editor in chief