John Stossel Sues Facebook for Defamation

( In late September, former Fox Business host John Stossel filed a lawsuit against Facebook for defamation after Climate Feedback, one of Facebook “fact-checking partners,” tagged two of his Facebook videos as “missing context” and “partly false.”

Stossel said the labels have suppressed the reach of his videos on Facebook and argued that his “professional reputation” was “significantly and irreparably damaged” by the Climate Feedback “fact-checks.”

In November 2019, Stossel posted a video titled “Are We Doomed?” in which he argued against the claims of an impending climate catastrophe. Facebook, based on Climate Feedback’s “fact-check,” labeled the video “partly false.”

In September 2020, in a video titled “Government Fueled Fires,” Stossel noted that the California wildfires have more to do with poor forest management than climate change. Facebook labeled that video “missing context” and limited its circulation after Climate Feedback claimed the video “misrepresents a complex reality.”

In the lawsuit, Stossel’s attorney argues that both Facebook and Climate Feedback defamed Stossel by falsely attributing statements to him that he never made. In the “Government Fueled Fires” fact-check by Climate Feedback, the so-called “fact-checking partner” claimed that Stossel said “Forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.” Only that isn’t what he said. He said poor management was primarily responsible, and he also acknowledged that climate change “made things worse.”

Stossel first reached out to Facebook about this glaring error, but Facebook told him to appeal directly to Climate Feedback. Two “reviewers” – the scientists who were assigned by Climate Feedback to “fact-check” Stossel’s video — admitted to him that they never viewed the video in question.

Despite that, Climate Feedback refused to change its ruling.

In her brief, Stossel’s attorney Krista L. Baughman wrote that when Stossel challenged Climate Feedback on their false attribution, the reviewers said that their judgment was based on their displeasure with the “tone” of Stossel’s speech and with what it supposedly “implies.”

Baughman also argued that the “missing context” label is a description that “could theoretically be applied to any content,” adding that such a label is used to “condemn any content that expresses an opinion with which Defendants disagree, under the pretext of a ‘fact-check.’”

Last week, Stossel — a staunch libertarian — acknowledged that Facebook has the right to demote his videos, but what it does not have the right to do is “just lie about me.”