We're so sorry!
It appears you are very upset about something and you wanted to let us know about it in a strongly worded email.
That's fine, we all need to vent sometimes. Let's make sure you make the most of it and you don't waste your time.
Below you will find some of the things frequently sent to us through the special email address we created for that purpose. Maybe you will find the thing you wanted to tell us is already in the list below so you don't need to send that email after all.
If what you are looking for is not in the list, our contact info is at the bottom of it so you can still let us know what we did that got you mad enough to make you want to send us an email about it.
#1 You never fact check the other side!
As you can read on our "How we work" page we don't take political slant into consideration when deciding what to fact check. We primarily look for viral content that seems false or misleading and write about that.
Now, if you primarily know us through Facebook you might not often see fact checks about topics from "the other side" in your timeline. But how often do you see posts from that side in your timeline anyway? Do you have many friends posting content from opposing political viewpoints on your timeline? Do you follow many pages/groups from "the other side"?
That might explain why you don't often see those fact checks then.
#2 You must be opposed to the thing I believe in!
No, we're probably not. We may find that one photo/study/statistic/quote/article supporting your point of view has false information in it. That doesn't automatically invalidate your entire case. It just means that a particular photo/study/statistic/quote/article shouldn't be relied on as evidence. You may still be right (or not) on the larger issue. We don't have a particular opinion on that. You can probably still support your point-of-view with other examples, cases and evidence. If our fact check helped you eliminate a bad example from your evidence and you are now left with only true examples to use in debates we've just made your case stronger. You are welcome!
#3 You are funded by someone I don't like!
First, are you sure? You shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet. Our funding sources are listed on our "about" page (this is a requirement imposed by the Code of Principles of the International Fact-Checking Network).
Those principles also require us to be nonpartisan and transparent about our methodology, no matter where the funding comes from.
We're also required to issue corrections if we get things wrong. So if you have a problem with one of our stories, please tell us what we got wrong and why instead of speculating or complaining about who (allegedly) paid us. It will be much more productive, we promise.
#4 You are "connected" or "linked" to someone I don't like!
What does that even mean? Just by reading this or by sending us an email you are now also "connected" or "linked" to us.
When we do work for a client, attend a conference by someone or speak to a source that does not automatically mean we agree with or endorse any of their opinions or policies (or of their board, their members, their employees, their clients, their family or their donors-three-steps-removed).
If criticism of one of our fact checks is heavy on the "links" and the "connections" part but light on pointing out actual factual errors we usually take that as a sign we were right. Prove us wrong, don't prove we are "connected" to someone.
#5 You are infringing on my First Amendment rights!
For reference, here is the text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
You must have Lead Stories confused with Congress. We do not have the power to make laws, much less enforce them. We are a private company engaging in journalism (i.e. the famous freedom of the press protected by the First Amendment) and we sometimes do work for other companies.
If you are concerned Congress did make a law that establishes or prohibits the free exercise of religion, abridges the freedom of speech (or of the press) or your right to peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, please complain directly to the U.S. Supreme Court as they are the ones qualified to rule on such matters.
You can find them here:
Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543
#6 You deleted my post!
Short answer: we didn't.
Longer answer: we can't. If something you posted or shared was removed from a platform or website we happen to work with, it was probably the platform, some moderator or the original poster who took it down. All we can do (on some platforms) is add a label to a post that warns people it may contain false or misleading information. We simply do not have the power to delete or remove anything.
#7 You deleted or restricted my account!
Short answer: we didn't.
Longer answer: we can't. None of the platforms we work with have given us the power to lock, delete, restrict or block an acccount. On Facebook our flags are potentially used to reduce the distribution of some content but none of it gets deleted, blocked or removed based on our actions. Note that Facebook does apply certain penalties for violations of their Community Standards but those do not involve us or fact checking.
#8 You have no right to read or interfere with anything I post to Facebook or Instagram!
We do in fact and you gave us that permission. If you are using Facebook or Instagram that means you accepted their Terms of Service, which say:
You may not use our Products to do or share anything:
Those Community Standards have an entire section dedicated to "False News", which says, in part:
We are working to build a more informed community and reduce the spread of false news in a number of different ways, namely by:....
- Reducing the distribution of content rated false by independent fact-checkers.
- Empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust or share by informing them with more context and promoting news literacy.
We are one of the fact checkers (listed on Facebook's Fact Checking page) that rates such content and provides that context.
#9 You claim to always know what is true, how is that even possible!
It might surprise you, but most of our fact checks deal with what is false, not with what is true. Figuring out if something is 100%, definitely, absolutely, no-doubt-about-it "True" (with capital T) is not what we generally do here. Philosophers, scientists and mathematicians have debated for ages if that is something that is even possible. So we rarely try it.
However it is often much easier to prove a claim is false, misleading or lacks evidence. Or that the evidence offered to support a claim is weak, incomplete or outright fake.
- No, that photo is not from this event, it is much older.
- No, that quote is not accurate, check the recording.
- No, these numbers are not abnormal or strange or concerning if you compare them to the rest of the graphs, tables and data in the study.
- No, this paper is not strong proof for this claim because they only studied four patients and the lead researcher made mathematical or logical errors.
- No, the information in this graphic does not actually appear in the source it claims it got it from.
- No, this "news" story did not really happen: it first appeared on a satire website three years ago.
You are welcome to believe in a larger "Truth" or to stand for various causes and ideals.
But I'm sure you'll agree it makes your case stronger if you only support it with evidence and examples that are not provably false.
Using false examples does not just harm your credibility. Did you know the Bible literally has a commandment against bearing false witness and that there are laws on the books against fraud and perjury? It's not just the fact checkers that should worry you in those cases.
#10 Your reporter is not a doctor/scientist/engineer/expert!
That is true. But the sources they relied on for their reporting probably are. We always include our sources in our stories so you can go and verify their credentials for yourself.
#11 Your contact address says "hatemail," that means you know people hate you!
No. It means you probably didn't properly read all the info on our contact page and you just clicked the first link you saw (which might be why you are now reading this).
#12 Your fact check is wrong!
Oh, dear, we try to avoid that, but sometimes it happens. If you decide to email us about it (using the proper channel, see previous item), please tell us:
- Which fact check you are talking about (many people forget this).
- What exactly is wrong with it (be specific, "all of it" will not cut it).
- Where we can find the correct information (links appreciated).
- Why you believe this source is more reliable than the ones we cite in our article (credentials, history ...).
If your arguments involve tribunals, aliens, cabals, George Soros, the deep state, God (or other deities), communism, fascism, China, threats of violence, criminal accusations, our mothers, our sexual preferences, racist/homophobic slurs or long strings of curse words: we're sure you will feel better after letting it all out.
But it is unlikely we will be persuaded by those kind of arguments and it would probably be a waste of your time. But don't let that discourage you.
#13 Facebook's lawyers admitted in court your fact checks are just "opinion"!
They did not.
In the case of John Stossel vs. Facebook, Science Feedback & Climate Feedback (Case: 5:21-cv-07385) lawyers for Facebook were making an argument about the legal status of the labels that appear on fact checked posts. These labels are part of the popups, overlays or information boxes that appear with such posts and they typically contain a rating like "False", "Partly False", "Missing Context" or "Satire".
The lawyers were arguing these labels are constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
And they clearly set them apart from the actual fact check articles when they were making the argument:
The lawyers were not making a statement about the fact-check articles written by the fact checkers here.
Note that in this context, "protected opinion" is a legal term with a very specific meaning that can include factual statements. A statement like "I believe John is a thief because I have video of him taking money out of my pocket" can be both a statement of fact *and* constitutionally protected opinion at the same time. It all depends on the context and the evidence.
I still want to email you and give you a piece of my mind!
Make sure you have read and understood the notice first:
Notice: Abusive or threatening emails will either be ignored, reported to the authorities or published on Twitter for entertainment purposes. Don't waste your time.
Having read that, go ahead and click if you absolutely want to send us a message like that anyway: [email protected]
Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or
inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.
Lead Stories is a:
- Verified signatory of the IFCN Code of Principles
- Facebook Third-Party Fact-Checking Partner
- Member of the #CoronavirusFacts Alliance
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