Did Facebook's independent fact checkers rate an image of the Bill of Rights as "False Information"? No, that's not true: an image circulating on social media that appears to show a fact checking overlay on the Bill of Rights is a crude forgery. We contacted several of the fact checkers Facebook is working with and none of them (including ourselves) have ever fact checked or rated the Bill of Rights.
An example of the false image can be seen in the viral post (archived here) published on the page "Being Libertarian" on May 23, 2020:
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
Facebook has entered into a partnership with several independent third-party fact checking organizations to help stop the spread of harmful misinformation on Facebook and Instagram. (Disclosure: Lead Stories is part of this partnership and gets paid by Facebook for the work we do in connection with it.)
The way it works is that fact checkers are able to add labels and warnings to false and misleading content and clicking these labels leads to a fact check published by the fact checker in question. Note that this does not remove the content, Facebook's fact checking partners do not have the ability to delete or remove anything. Only Facebook's own moderation teams can do that and they only take that action when content violates the Community Standards (and note that the Community Standards explicitly allow posting false news).
Here are two examples of what these labels look like. Here is one that covers a forged screenshot showing a tweet that President Trump never made:
And this is an example of a labeled post on Instagram about another forged tweet supposedly made by Chuck Schumer:
As you can see the somewhat transparent but fuzzy overlay pretty thoroughly covers up the underlying image and the text and icon are bright white sit directly on top of the semi-transparent layer.
However on the fake Bill of Rights image the text and icon seem to be sitting on top of a grayish background that is not transparent at all, and the underlying image of the Bill of Rights just appears to have been made somewhat darker than the original, with no semi-transparent layer in evidence:
Compare with this post we made on our own Facebook page:
(Also note the distinct lack of fact checking overlay, proving it is definitely possible to post this image to Facebook without a fact checking label appearing)
In the United States Facebook works with following independent third-party fact checkers:
AFP United States
On the AFP Fact Check website a search for "Bill of Rights" (archived here) only brings up a story about South Africa.
The Associated Press
A search of Google's Fact Check Explorer for Associated Press fact checks of the "Bill of Rights" (archived here) yielded no results.
Check Your Fact
Check Your Fact provided us following statement: "Check Your Fact has not fact checked the Bill of Rights, nor have we rated such an image "false" to my knowledge. The image appears to be poorly photoshopped to resemble the misinformation overlay applied to false and partially false photos. As you know, the false information overlay completely greys out images, whereas this one does not."
A search of Google's Fact Check Explorer for "Bill of Righs" posts from factcheck.org (archived here) shows two results but none of them claim the Bill of Rights is false.
Our own position on this is clear: we have never fact checked or labeled the Bill of Rights.
Asked for a statement by Lead Stories in an email, PolitiFact said the following: "We have never fact-checked the bill of rights, nor would we. We have cited it as a source many times."
Lead Stories received a similar reply from Science Feedback: "Science Feedback never fact-checked the Bill of Rights, nor did any staff marked a picture of it as False."
Reuters Fact Check
A search for '"Bill of Rights" fact check' (archived here) on the Reuters website yielded only four results and none of them were about fact checks of the Bill of Rights.
A search for USA Today fact checks about the "Bill of Rights" (archived here) on Google's Fact Check explorer yielded no results.
Conclusion: the meme is a crude forgery and the Bill of Rights can be posted to Facebook and Instagram without the risk of any fact checking labels appearing.
Note: now that we have published this fact check, posting the false meme itself will probably result in a fact checking label being applied. Let's be very clear here: the Bill of Righs is NOT false. What is false here is saying or implying Facebook fact checkers labeled it false.
(Editors' Note: Facebook is a client of Lead Stories, which is a third-party fact checker for the social media platform. On our About page, you will find the following information:
Since February 2019 we are actively part of Facebook's partnership with third party fact checkers. Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook's systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.)