Google search finds IFCN complaints at poynter.org

International Fact-Checking Network revised logo

On or about June 21, 2021, a Google search discovered a complaint we had submitted to the International Fact-Checking Network about PolitiFact.

We’ve lobbied the IFCN for years to encourage it to adopt a more open policy with its system of complaints. We’d prefer for the public to have free access to all the complaints the IFCN receives about its signatory fact-checking organizations. The IFCN evidently does not prefer that option. As a compromise, to keep the IFCN from having to host potentially ridiculous complaints, we have suggested the IFCN adopt a minimum standard of keeping a list of complaints for each signatory organization. The list should, at minimum, identify the complainant and the part of the IFCN Code of Principles allegedly broken. The public should not have to wait for the IFCN to periodically (and vaguely) report on such matters.

When we saw our complaint available through a Google search, hope flickered that the IFCN had perhaps moved toward meeting some reasonable minimum standard of transparency.

By modifying our search terms, we were able to identify three complaints we submitted, all from 2020. Each item represents a .pdf download link.

The links are hosted by the Internet Archive. We used the archive URLs for the links because the IFCN may well have inadvertently allowed indexing. The IFCN may act to block indexing. Using the archive would make the IFCN take the extra step of asking the Internet Archive to remove the archived URLs. We don’t see the point of that, given that we publish our complaints to the IFCN, including these, to the Zebra Fact Check website.

This Google Advanced search helps confirm that the public posting of these complaints by the IFCN was an accident or, at minimum, an anomaly. The three listed above remain the only three complains to the IFCN available at that specific domain. We might as well archive the search result as well.

The IFCN also has a policy against publishing failed applications, but temporarily published some of those to the World Wide Web some time ago. So this isn’t the first occurrence of this type of mistake.

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