Full Fact and Facebook Rated One of My Tweets as False. Here Is Why this Is BS.

Full Fact recently fact-checked one of my tweets which many people had screen-shotted and shared to Facebook. Facebook later marked those screen shots as false news, linking to the Full Fact article and stating the original post had "no basis in fact". 

Someone had, unbeknown to me, shared the post to our Facebook Group, and in response, Facebook reduced the group's distribution, forcing us to delete the post. This was a clear example of the overreach of big tech, because Facebook and Full Fact completely missed the point of my tweet. I'm not sure whether this was clumsiness or a deliberate attempt at censorship, but I note that Serco quote-tweeted their "fact check" so make of that what you will, and either way, it was bullshit. 

Let me explain:

First of all, Fact Check claimed the central point of the tweet was that Serco received £37 billion for NHS Test and Trace. 

This was not the central point of the tweet as anyone with half a brain could see.

The point of the tweet was to compare the £37 billion Test and Trace budget to the £36 billion being raised for the NHS and social care, which was £1 billion less. In other words, I was suggesting the Test and Trace budget probably could've been better allocated to the NHS and social care. I think most people would agree this was a fair point.

Full Fact acknowledged the test and trace budget was indeed £37 billion.

They also acknowledged the sum being raised by the National Insurance increase and dividend tax was indeed £36 billion.

This means they agreed the central point of the tweet was correct(!), but they labelled the tweet as incorrect, based on points I was not actually arguing.

First of all, Full Fact said not all of the money was spent, that only £13.5 billion had been spent to date and only £623 million was spent by Serco. Fair enough, Serco was not the sole recipient of this money and I could have worded this clearly, but again, that was not the central point of the tweet and I highly doubt anyone read it that way.

I was being facetious when I described the money as being "magically disappeared by Serco". This was a tongue in cheek side-point, raising a question mark about where the Test and Trace budget is actually going, when other countries' Test and Trace budgets are much lower. This is a perfectly valid concern that is absolutely in the public interest and should not be subjected to censorship by big tech. The question of why our Test and Trace budget is so high has been raised in Parliament by MPs like Dawn Butler.

Full Fact made a fair point that money was allocated to other companies, but I feel writing "Serco and other companies" would have cluttered the tweet. Plus, I doubt anyone was thinking that only Serco received Test and Trace contracts, or even cared which other companies were involved.

The tweet was not directly aimed at Serco, that was a side swipe because they were the most recognisable name from all the parties involved. Plus, they are a company which has received government money for many projects over the years that some people believe were failures. But I digress....

The tweet was aimed at how the government has allocated resources!

The fact check should have read as followed:

What was claimed:

That the government allocated £37 billion to Test and Trace, which was £1 billion more than the £36 billion being raised for the NHS and social care.

Our Verdict:

The central claim of the tweet is correct. The government set aside a budget of £37 billion to run the NHS Test and Trace program for two years. The 1.4% increase to National Insurance and the dividend tax is intended to raise £36 billion. 

However, not all of the Test and Trace budget was allocated to Serco, and to date, only £13.5 billion has been spent, £623 million of which was spent by Serco. Therefore, the money has not been "magically disappeared by Serco".

This would have been a fair and accurate way of fact checking the tweet, and wording it that way would mean Facebook couldn't have stated the tweet had "no basis in fact". It clearly did have a basis in fact, and while there was admittedly an inaccuracy in how I singled out Serco, this was not the central point of the tweet and I was clearly being facetious. The tweet was 90% accurate and yet Facebook suggested it was 100% false, even though Full Fact acknowledged my key claims were correct, even after distorting the original point I was making.

This is not how fact checking should be done.

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