Things aren’t always what they seem online so take care with what you share a UK government campaign titled ‘SHAREChecklist’ boldly states. Their advice? Check the facts with an official source such as GOV.UK or Full Fact.
Our advice is to share it. If you are unsure of the source or where facts are limited or uncertain, state as such and enquire whether further information is available. Stay curious, analyse, ask questions, challenge, and open dialogues and discussions.
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Most of us are aware that it’s not only online but also things published by corporate media that aren’t always what they seem. However, a major difference between government or corporate media reports and independent or citizen reports shared online, is the latter allows for public discourse and open debate, providing they are not censored, while corporate media and their fact-checking services do not – they prefer a top-down “above all” approach.
Denying public debate negates the all-important diversity of thought in a liberal and democratic society. Silencing counterarguments that challenge their preferred storyline enables governments and corporate media to create a one-sided narrative. A narrative that, left unchallenged, moves further and further away from the truth. But here’s a fact that you will not find on either GOV.UK or Full Fact: a lie cannot become truth, no matter how often it is repeated.
The SHAREChecklist attempts to provide advice on what to share and what not to share apparently for the good of others. Information that does not originate from their sources could be “harmful to share with our friends and families,” the UK government claims.
It’s important to understand that we, the people, are in the midst of an information war. One which began in earnest at the start of 2020. A battle in the public space for complete and truthful information while governments and their advisors attempt to manipulate our perceptions and behaviours so we obey their instructions, without question, even when those instructions prove to be harmful.
Even the most trusting know that governments and politicians hide the truth, manipulate the truth and even outright lie – it’s merely the extent that varies. We know that governments use mass media – television, radio and online – as tools to roll out their narratives to the public en masse. Additional government tools include initiatives such as their SHAREChecklist campaign.
At the very least corporate media is biased but as they sink deeper into an ever-narrowing storyline it is becoming apparent that reports are being manufactured and that they are activists seeking to implement an agenda, they are not journalists.
Fact-checking services do not provide facts they provide opinions. Last year, Facebook admitted in court that its “fact checks” are nothing more than statements of opinion. Not experts’ opinions but those of the “fact-checkers.” And self-described “fact-checkers” are not independent. They are dependent on donations from large corporations, the same corporations that work to craft a narrative and silence public debate through censorship.
As we work through the checklist what will become apparent is that in no way does the government advise, or even so much as hint at encouraging: critical thinking, comparing a variety of sources, open dialogue or debate. The checklist leads readers along a path to following a narrative set by a centralised coterie – the government or whoever is “advising” them.
The Government’s first bit of advice is to “make sure information comes from a trusted source.” This is common sense and something we should all be doing, and most likely instinctively are. What each of us believes are “trusted sources” is decisive.
A source that has been proven to lie without remorse is not a source to be trusted. Any source that consistently and persistently promotes Covid injections as “safe and effective” and so roll up your sleeve for another shot, for example, is not to be trusted. Within these sources, the lies are pathological and systemic. Such a source – the BBC, SAGE or UK government, for example – does not suddenly and inexplicably switch from being wanton liars to being truthful.
The second bit of advice the Government has to offer is to read beyond the headline – yet more common sense. A headline cannot contain all the substantive information that an article contains.
Additionally, clickbait headlines, for example, are common practice in all forms of media. To avoid a knee jerk response to the attention-seeking text we should not take an article, or post online, at its headline. Corporate media, as with marketing agencies, are particularly adept at clickbait headlines, texts and thumbnails. And, of course, the UK government has SPI-B and the Nudge Unit to advise them on how to use psychology to maximise public “engagement” and “cooperation.” The checkmark or tick symbol incorporated into the SHAREChecklist logo is an example of typical Nudge Unit behavioural psychology.
Again, in its third bit of advice, the Government advises some additional common sense: “check the facts.” What is notable about this point is that, according to the UK government, there are a limited number of sources that provide these “facts.” Actually, there are only two: themselves, of course, and “fact-checkers,” namely Full Fact.
The BBC frequently and repeatedly tells its viewers that it is a trusted source, bringing you the all facts. Yet, SHAREChecklist does not recommend them as a source to “check the facts.” This may or may not be an indication of how the Government views BBC’s “fact-based” reporting or, possibly, recognition the public has, by and large, lost its trust in the BBC.
Taking on board the first two bits of advice – “trusted source” and “read beyond the headline,” in this case the Government’s headline – we take a brief look at the Government recommended “fact-checker” Full Fact later in this article.
The fourth bit of the Government’s advice is as true for images and videos shared online as it is for images and videos shown on television. There have been many examples of dubious images and videos published by corporate media over the past two years that deserve to be questioned. There is no source of information, “official” or unofficial, that we should not test for accuracy and reliability. Stay sceptical. Criticism is not only legitimate, it is necessary.
The final bit of advice the Government gives is that typos could be an indication that the information is false. How are those with dyslexia or learning difficulties supposed to feel reading that? For those who find it hard to express their thoughts and ideas in writing, you’re in good company. While Albert Einstein loved mathematics and science, he disliked grammar and had problems with spelling.
After singling out typos, then comes the sneaky bit: “official guidance” – in other words, the Government’s or the centralised coterie’s guidance – has been “carefully checked” presumably for spelling and grammatical errors. So naturally, the Government’s typo-free publications must be true – of course! On that basis, if you want to avoid being censored download Grammarly now!
Who Is Full Fact?
Full Fact’s website states: “We’re developing world-leading technology and new research to spot repeated claims, and find out how bad information can be tackled at a global scale. And we campaign for change that will make bad information rarer and less harmful.”
Who are the people and organisations behind Full Fact? Who are they campaigning for? Who is determining what information is “bad”?
In 2012, UK Column published an article about Full Fact, ‘Faux Facts – The disturbing Truth About fullfact.org’, digging a little deeper into “this interesting little non-profit company, headed by Tory Party donor and Anne Freud Centre Chairman Michael Samuel.”
In 2019 Daily Mail wrote that Full Fact was at the centre of an election row with the Tories and was forced to defend its credibility after it stepped into a social media war after an election debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. Daily Mail quoted Dominic Raab: “Who said Final Fact is the final arbiter of what the public gets to see as the truth? There’s no god-given right, set in law.”
“Foundations set up by eBay creator Pierre Omidyar and left-wing investor George Soros have also joined tech giants in giving six-figure sums to London-based Full Fact along with thousands of unnamed individual donors paying between £25 and £5,000 each,” Daily Mail reported.
A 2021 article published in The Critic noted the board of trustees included Labour peer Baroness Janet Royall, Lib-Dem peer Lord John Sharkey and former Conservative Party member Lord Richard Inglewood. These three peers are still trustees and Michael Samuel is still chairman.
The Critic article goes on to note that Full Fact is a charity with a small output of research compared to its size, funded primarily by big-tech and staffed to a large extent by former public sector workers or ex-reporters from left-wing media. “Full Fact’s website reports that they were paid £1.1 million by Facebook and £206,500 by Google in 2019, plus a monthly payment of £7,300 worth of free advertising by the search giant. The funding by big-tech in 2019 makes up roughly 70% of their declared funding for the year,” The Critic wrote.
As you can see for yourself in the table below Full Fact is still predominantly funded, and so their opinions are influenced, by the notorious online censor organisations – Facebook, which includes WhatsApp, and Google, which includes YouTube. In 2021, almost 40% of Full Fact’s “donations” came from Facebook and Google.
Full Fact does not pass the government’s SHAREChecklist test and, according to UK government advice, their articles may be “harmful” if shared with friends and families – do not share them.
|Full Fact Funding 2021 retrieved 6 April 2022|
|£305,119.64||Third Party Fact Checking programme|
|£116,352.14||Framework for collaboration during misinformation crises|
|Hundreds of individual donors and gift aid||£370,148.00||Core funding|
|Mohn Westlake Foundation||£250,000.00||Core funding|
|Google AI for Good Impact Challenge||£235,222.77||Automated fact checking|
|Nuffield Foundation||£100,000.00||Fact checking and annual report|
|Esmée Fairbairn Foundation||£68,333.33||Core funding|
|£61,809.84||WhatsApp fact checking service|
|International Fact Checking Network & WhatsApp||£53,737.20||Vaccine Grant Program|
|Baillie Gifford||£50,000.00||Core funding|
|John Ellerman Foundation||£50,000.00||Core funding|
|Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust||£50,000.00||Core funding|
|The Buchanan Programme||£49,801.68||Core funding|
|The Dulverton Trust||£35,000.00||Core funding|
|Gill Family Foundation||£30,000.00||Core funding|
|James Padolsey||£30,000.00||Core funding|
|International Fact Checking Network & National Endowment for Democracy||£26,576.58||Fact-Checkers Working Together Research Program|
|Colefax Charitable Trust||£25,000.00||Core funding|
|The M J Samuel Charitable Trust||£17,500.00||Core funding|
|International Fact Checking Network & YouTube||£17,064.56||Fact Checking Development Grant|
|Highway One Trust||£10,000.00||Policy team|
|William de Winton||£10,000.00||Core funding|
|Reed Foundation||£9,000.00||Core funding|
|Good Thinking Society||£8,000.00||Core funding|
|Dorothy Bishop||£6,000.00||Core funding|
|Cecil Pilkington Charitable Trust||£5,000.00||Core funding|
|Tinsley Charitable Trust||£5,000.00||Core funding|
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