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Facebook ‘fact-checkers’ disagree about university COVID vaccine mandates

Pages can face punishment, even though the fact-checkers cannot agree themselves

Facebook’s “fact-checkers” cannot agree on the legality of university COVID vaccine mandates.

Disagreement about the legality of the COVID vaccines is understandable — The College Fix explored this topic several weeks ago in our own article, but the problem is that a Facebook fact-check on an article can lead to reduced distribution.

And enough strikes against a page can lead to a permanent ban. The College Fix has seen this firsthand, after Facebook overlords punished us for sharing the comments of an epidemiologist who made a prediction about what would happen if lockdowns were lifted.

Factcheck.org, a project of Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, said that “there is some uncertainty about the legality of mandating vaccines authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” but “generally” universities and employers can mandate the COVID vaccine.

“There is no federal law that says vaccines cannot be required for employees or students,” the fact-check website said. However, some states, such as Florida, have banned COVID vaccine passports and mandates.

Contracts may also make it difficult, the fact-check website said. “Employers also may be subject to collective bargaining agreements that require them to negotiate with employee unions before mandating vaccines as a condition of employment.” This issue arose earlier this week in New York over COVID vaccine mandates for public university faculty and staff.

That analysis is nuanced, fact-based and does not immediately say that statements about COVID vaccine mandates not being legal are false. It also notes that there are several lawsuits pending that could lead to more clarity, or confusion.

But it contradicts with another Facebook fact-check, from the Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact.

Politifact ignores problems with its fact-check

PolitiFact gave a “false” rating to the statement that “It’s illegal for a college, public school or employer to ‘mandate’ the vaccine because it was authorized for emergency use.”

“There are no legal mechanisms in place that would prevent any institution, whether it’s an employer or school, from mandating COVID-19 shots,” Michael Majchrowicz said, except for religious or disability exemptions.

However, the emergency use authorization status was specifically cited by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said that public university students would be mandated to receive the COVID vaccine, provided the Food and Drug Administration removed the “emergency use” designation from the vaccines.

The Fix contacted PolitiFact twice in the past two weeks to suggest that it reconsider calling it completely false. The Fix emailed the suggestions email address for PolitiFact but has not received a response.

It did not respond to the links provided by The College Fix on April 30, which included articles about how some university systems had concluded they did not have the legal authority to mandate COVID vaccines. The Navy came to a similar conclusion based on the emergency authorization status.

Nor did the fact-checker respond to a May 6 email with a link to an article about how Nova Southeastern University, a private Florida college, had revoked its COVID vaccine mandate after Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning them.

Yet, organizations like The College Fix are supposed to adhere to “facts” that not even the fact-checkers agree exist.

Facebook said it wants to stop the spread of misinformation, but by its own definition, at least one of its fact-checkers could be spreading misinformation.

MORE: Twitter suspends Fix reporter for sharing Hunter Biden photo

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.