Fact Checked by Facebook

The original meme posted on Bacon’s Rebellion and in Facebook.

by James A. Bacon

On Sunday I published a meme from The Bull Elephant blog that used two photos to contrast the environmental footprint of the Keystone Pipeline with that of a lithium mine for hybrid cars. The point, as any thinking person would immediately grasp, was to highlight the inconsistency of those who decried the environmental impact of the pipeline but ignored the impact of a lithium mine. It was a meme. Memes, by their nature, over-simplify arguments. I posted it not because it provided a fair-and-balanced exegesis of the issue, but because the juxtaposition of images reminded readers that one cannot consider the environmental impact of gas- and 0il pipelines without also considering the impact of their renewable alternatives, which require the large-scale mining of lithium, rare earth minerals, and other elements.

The next day I cross-posted the meme on the Bacon’s Rebellion Facebook page. When I checked that page today, I found that the image had been stripped away and replaced with the following notice: “False Information. The same information was checked in another post by independent fact checkers.”

Here’s what that notice looked like:

The notice did permit readers to click through and view the original image, and it did allow them to click through and see why the image had been bumped from the original post. The net result, though, was that hardly anyone interacted with the post. Why bother reading misinformation?

What was “false” about the photo? Facebook cited PolitiFact as saying that the photo shows a gold mine, not a lithium mine.

Let’s examine that assertion. Here’s the photo of the “gold” mine from the meme:

Now, here is a photo, found on Bing, of the Talison lithium mine in Australia:

From an environmental perspective, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the gold mine (assuming it actually is a gold mine) and the lithium mine. Both are huge open-pit mines that require removing, crunching, and processing millions of tons of rock. Both have a tremendous negative impact on the environment, which was the meme’s message.

Technically, the meme might have been inaccurate in describing the gold mine as a lithium mine. The person who composed the meme should have been more careful. But the error was inconsequential. It didn’t change the meme’s message in the slightest.

However, Facebook didn’t treat it as an inconsequential error. Facebook blocked the meme and declared it “false information.”

It was a friggin’ meme! You might as well fact-check satirists and comedians. Block references to Gulliver’s Travels on the grounds that “Independent fact checkers have determined that Lilliputians do not exist.”

Lesson to be learned: This is one small example of the infowars being waged to influence how Americans perceive the world. Facebook has taken sides. Certain topics — or perhaps I should say certain perspectives on certain topics — are impermissible. That’s reality. Even if Politifact says it isn’t.

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42 responses to “Fact Checked by Facebook”

  1. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    Perhaps the fact-checkers didn’t fully understand the meme. Can you repost it, with text in Mandarin Chinese?

  2. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    In this New World with social media Newspeak, we can expect sooner or later to be misunderstood. Helicopter parents and oversensitive and overprotective folks will strike blows. IMO, it’s a price we are paying for protecting unbounded ideologies and misinformation including outright lies by public officials. Sympathies, James.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      In my opinion they are fascist thugs practicing the tactics perfected by Goebbels and his ilk to keep the populace ignorant and compliant. But that’s just my opinion.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Stay on topic Steve. This is about Facebook, not Fox Muse.

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      The baritone of Eric Burdon had it’s appeal, but then this strained tenor has some appealing aspects…

  3. The goal is not reasonable fact checking. The goal is ideologically motivated control, censorship, and cancel culture intimidation.

    1. John Martin Avatar
      John Martin

      that is so stupid

  4. tmtfairfax Avatar

    It’s a damn good thing that the WaPo doesn’t rely on Facebook for publication. If truly independent factcheckers reviewed what it publishes, nothing would be published.

    BTW, the new managing editor of the Post’s editorial pages doesn’t seem to be diverse in the woke sense. Go figure!

    1. ..and we all know exactly how “independent” the “fact-checkers” used by Facebook are likely to be.

  5. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Next offense, Facebook Jail.

  6. DJRippert Avatar

    After many years on various platforms I have concluded that mass-appeal social media is a net negative to society.

    I stopped using Facebook altogether quite some time ago.

    I’ve never been a big Twitter user.

    LinkedIn is losing its business / technology core and is becoming a combination of warm and cuddly human interest stories laced with occasional political babble.

    Instagram is Facebook 2.0.

    Medium is a wacked-out liberal site with, by far, the most bizarre commentary of them all.

    Substack is reasonably good.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      That includes conservative radio. We are all reaping what the Dittoheads had sown.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      You should hit Parler or better yet Truth Social…

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Can’t imagine they are any different.

  7. SudleySpr Avatar

    The real lesson, stop using Facebook.

  8. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    It’s not Facebook. It’s META … as in “I meta jerk. His name is Zuckerberg.”

  9. david Beauregard Avatar
    david Beauregard

    The level of tyranny exhibited by small incursions into denying persons their constitutional rights for expressing their opinion is only a small portion of the Facebook net negative. And yet, Zuckerberg and company are the first to cry “foul” when Congress pulls them to Washington for badly needed reminders of what it takes to appreciate Democracy and its’ noisy freedoms. The choice is to stop using Facebook.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Wait! Since when did the Right start imposing Constitutional Rights to free speech on private companies? What’s next, proselytizing at the water cooler? Soapboxes in hotel lobbies?

      Look, it took 9-11 to finally get the Hare Krishnas outta the damned airports. Let’s not reopen that door.

  10. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Being as FB gestapo admitted in court after John Stossel sued them that their “fact checkers” aren’t offering facts but Opinions. That is a fact.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Keeps ’em outta the…

      Australia, you say. Well, the Aboriginals had it right…
      “In 1920 an official name of the opal field was needed and the Progress Committee voted that it be ‘Coober Pedy’, an aboriginal term meaning ‘white man in a hole’.”

  11. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Uh oh. I need to modify my comment to your original post…

    On Facebook, no one can hear you scream… but they can tell the difference between an open pit gold mine and an open pit lithium mine.

  12. John Butcher found this photo on a website, miningglobal.com, on a page entitled, “The 5 Largest Lithium Mining Companies in the World.” Here is the photo atop the page:


    Maybe someone needs to fact-check Politifact!

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Or, miningglobal.com?

      Of course, you might’ve included “Images are for illustrative purposes only and may, or may not, be representative of the mining and pipeline industries. Your pollution may vary .”

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        the basic concept of a mining pit being “bad” is willing ignorance anyhow, given how many pits we’ve had for a hundred years or more and only now the “anti” lithium crowd has decided to complain.

        Here’s the pits that powered electricity to our homes for generations – without a peep except from those pesky green weenies:


        so only now, after the advent of lithium are all these pits a problem? yeah right.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Hundred years? Try millennia.

        2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          I will take pit mining over mountain top removal…. At least pit mines are contained to discreet locations… MTR is everywhere… and don’t get me started on acid mine drainage…

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Besides, once they fill with water, flyover Republicans get swimming pools.

          2. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            “Eric the half a troll LarrytheG • 14 minutes ago
            I will take pit mining over mountain top removal…. At least pit mines are contained to discreet locations… MTR is everywhere… and don’t get me started on acid mine drainage…”

            Out of sight out of mind, huh halfwit.

            Well that open pit mine creates an artificial lake of acid water that contaminates the surrounding surface and groundwater. However, whatever you have to tell yourself to push your faux environmentalist views.

  13. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    The extractive industries generally have eco-issues to be dealt with. If we look at the total sector picture, we have Chemical/PetroChem Industries, we have municipal/govt (wastewater etc), we have extractive industries, utilities and did I leave anything out?

    So when we had Love Canal and other chemical issues in the decades past, Congress declared war on mainly the chemicals sector. The other sectors had more freedom, business as-usual with less regulation (eg; coal mining, coal ash, raw sewage, etc). In the case of extractive industries the assumption typically was that is totally impractical and uneconomical to control the wastes.

    Now of course US liberals say American must mandate zero pollution, everywhere. There may be exceptions for things liberals think are politically correct, like lithium mines, especially overseas is OK.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I think the “war” was declared on chemicals that killed and maimed humans? I know, I know, a pesky fact.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      The extraction side of the industry (oil & gas) was also not as stringently regulated as the downstream and petrochemical side.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        well, neither side was for some time. We’ve had problems with chemicals out the wazoo from PCBs, dioxin, MTB, mercury, and dozens more and efforts to regulate them fought tooth and nail by industry and conservatives in general.

        And for decades, acid rain, mercury, NOx, mountain-top removal and coal ash – without much of a whimper from the folks who now are crying about lithium, wind and solar. It borders on luddite IMHO.

  14. sbostian Avatar

    Personally, I always click through to see the shadowed picture. Facebook’s disapproval of content incites my curiosity. Often, I may not have paid any attention to the post if FB had simply left it alone.

  15. LarrytheG Avatar

    so “free speech” including lies are now fact-checked and disallowed if the fact-checker deems them to indeed be lies? There needs to be a new organization formed to protect the “free speech” of liars and the like?

  16. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    To add something of interest to this “woe is me” piece, I came across this article recently on (of all places) Facebook:


    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      The Rightwing nuts will link it to Covid and Fauci.

    2. That is awesome. I am glad there are people working on improved, cleaner, extraction methods and I hope they are wildly successful.

  17. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    So you were spamming the internet to promote a false equivalency meme with “technically” incorrect representations from a blog that you regularly promote via spam and seem to have some kind of uncomfortable cross-promotion relationship and it was blocked on facebook (sort of, but not really). Poor, poor victim JAB…

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Isn’t that what grievance politics is all about?

  18. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    stop lying and avoid the grief

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