The British Medical Journal and Lead Stories, a fact checker in the employ of Facebook, are engaged in a war of words over a report on a Pfizer whistleblower that was deemed by the social network to have “missing context.”
On November 2, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), one of the world’s most prestigious medical periodicals, published a whistleblowing report that called into question the integrity of data and highlighted issues with regulatory oversight of phase-three trials of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.
This report is based upon testimony from the Ventavia Regional Director, who was also a contractor involved in trials. Brook Jackson claimed several trial sites in Texas had experienced major issues, and alleged that Pfizer had falsified data, broken fundamental trial rules, and been “Slow” to report adverse reactions.
The BMJ said the report had been published only after being subjected to both a legal review and an external peer review, and had met the periodical’s exacting editorial standards.
But, readers complained that the report was not being shared on Facebook as of November 10. It was reported that those who tried to share it were flagged by the message. “Missing context … Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.”Other users were also informed about the fact that they shared their content repeatedly. “false information” would see their posts sent to the bottom of Facebook’s feed.
Lead Stories has been contacted by the BMJ to address the problem. Lead Stories fact checked the article and labeled it. Open letter from the journal claimed that “fact check”It was performed “inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible.”
The letter noted a number of flaws in the fact check, including that it did not qualify in what manner the BMJ’s article was inaccurate. It said the fact check report had been given a “nonsensical title”Lead Stories had described the BMJ’s a “poisonous” and they disagreed. “news blog.” The medical publication, one of the world’s oldest and most respected, also took offense at the story having been published on Lead Stories’ own website under a URL that contained the phrase “hoax-alert.”
Lead Stories responded to the BMJ by saying, “The piece carries a scare headline that oversells the whistleblower and overstates the jeopardy.” It said the whistleblower’s claims had concerned just three of the 153 sites at which the vaccine had been tested on 44,000 participants, adding that a less misleading headline would have been more appropriate.
The whistleblower’s credibility was also in question. “By her own account, Brook Jackson holds a 30-hour certification in auditing techniques focused on proper electronic medical records and data capture as well as lab procedures,”It was noted.
Lead Stories claimed that anti-vaxxers shared the article to prove the fraudulent Pfizer clinical trial and make the vaccine unfit for use. It also noted that publication of the story had inadvertently coincided with fake-news reports that Pfizer’s CEO had been arrested for fraud.
Despite this, it said, the piece had only been labeled “Missing Context” – the lightest measure Facebook can apply of several – and that no user traffic to the article had been restricted.