An Instagram post from Australian parody news outlet The Betoota Advocate has been falsely flagged as misinformation, after fact-checkers linked their latest riff on the AFL Grand Final to coronavirus conspiracy theories.
A grid post promoting yesterday’s article, entitled Adelaide Winemakers Report Thousands Of Spoiled Vats After Sharp Increase In Sour Grapes, is now labelled as ‘false information’ on the Facebook-owned platform.
It now bears a warning asking viewers if they really want to see the content.
“We found that this post repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact-checkers say is false,” Instagram says.
The social media giant says fact-checkers from US-based organisations Factcheck.org and USA Today found the post contained “baseless” and “bogus” conspiracy theories.
While the image really has sweet fuck-all to do with the pandemic, the full article, which was reproduced in the caption, does address coronavirus.
“With the Melbourne Cricket Ground no longer an safe option to host the decider due to the second wave of coronavirus, the AFL on has (sic) today announced a venue switch for one of the most-watched Australian sporting events of the year,” Betoota wrote.
That’s exactly what happened, making the whole conspiracy theory thing an extremely odd call.
The rest of the article was pretty standard fare for a parody news outlet, and accusing South Australians of being sour grapes after their failed bid for the Grand Final doesn’t exactly seem like coronavirus misinformation.
(As a South Australian, I’d argue Adelaide Oval is clearly the superior venue. But, as Betoota wrote, “Waaa waaa waaa.”)
The mix-up has been a hit with Betoota’s readers, who seem kind of chuffed the article was flagged in the first place.
This whole incident seems unintentional on behalf of The Betoota Advocate.
But it’s not the first time an Australian parody outlet has pushed the boundaries of Facebook’s misinformation policies, drawing attention to the platform’s dicey handling of harmful and misleading content.
Earlier this year, both The Chaser and The Shovel posted deliberately bullshit stories about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, after he said social media platforms shouldn’t be the “arbiter of truth” for what people say online.
With another US election coming up, and with coronavirus conspiracies in full swing, all eyes are on Facebook’s handling of misinformation.
I kind of agree with the platform on one thing, though: Playing the Grand Final at the Gabba does seem like fake news.Image: @betootaadvocate / Instagram