On the same day Facebook’s oversight board upheld its decision to ban former President Donald Trump from its platform, Facebook removed a Federalist article, claiming independent fact-checkers found the story was “missing context.”
The Federalist article, titled “Pentagon Develops Microchip Detecting COVID-19 By Tracking Your Blood” is based on a “60 Minutes” report by Bill Whitaker that aired on April 11. In the segment, Whitaker interviewed Dr. Matt Hepburn, a retired infectious disease physician in the army who headed up a U.S. Department of Defense initiative to develop a chip that goes under the skin. The chip, or sensor, tracks chemical reactions and sends notifications to an individual if they will have COVID-19 symptoms the following day.
Independent fact-checker Science Feedback, a group Facebook outsources many of its health-related fact checks to, claims The Federalist’s article is “missing context.” The editor, Marina Yurieva, who did not reach out for comment to The Federalist prior to her “fact-check,” writes that “calling the hydrogel sensor a microchip is inaccurate.”
Science Feedback says it is false that the Pentagon has developed a microchip to detect the coronavirus under one’s skin. Here is the transcript from the “60 Minutes” interview in which Hepburn explains how the sensor works:
Dr. Matt Hepburn: It’s a sensor.
Bill Whitaker: This tiny green thing in there?
Dr. Matt Hepburn: That tiny green thing in there, you put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body and that signal means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow.
Bill Whitaker: Wow. There’s an– an actual transmitter in that–
Dr. Matt Hepburn: Yeah. It’s like a “check engine” light.
Bill Whitaker: Check this sailor out before he infects other people?
Dr. Matt Hepburn: That’s right. Sailors would get the signal, then self-administer a blood draw and test themselves on site.
It is also unclear how The Federalist’s reporting could be “missing context” when it includes a quote from Hepburn that provides more than enough context about how the sensor works.
“It’s not some dreaded government microchip to track your every move, but a tissue-like gel engineered to continuously test your blood,” Hepburn said.
Facebook’s “fact-checkers” determined an article is “missing context” when The Federalist quotes a scientist but not when a “60 Minutes” report does.