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Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes

When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?

A Facebook fact-checking group censored a report released this week that the Biden Administration is providing grants that would fund the distribution of crack pipes to the addicted, labeling it as containing “partly false information” and burying any posts containing the report in users’ news feeds.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is operating a $30 million grant program for harm reduction, a strategy to combat drug addiction that seeks “to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of behavior associated with alcohol and other substance use.” Perhaps the best known harm reduction tactic has been the exchange or distribution of clean needles to the addicted.

Now, it would appear, pipes for the smoking of various substances are also being distributed:

Included in the grant, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, are funds for “smoking kits/supplies.” A spokesman for the agency told the Washington Free Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and “any illicit substance.”

Patrick Hauf, “Biden Admin To Fund Crack Pipe Distribution To Advance ‘Racial Equity’” at Washington Free Beacon

Snopes reported that it was true that the federal government was funding a harm reduction grant program in which recipients would be distributing smoking kits. Still, they rated the report as “mostly false,” but only because crack pipes were “just one of around 20 components of the grant program.”

On Wednesday, both the White House and the HHS denied that crack pipes would be covered by the grants. The HHS wrote that its aim is “to reduce harm and save lives. Accordingly, no federal funding will be used directly or through subsequent reimbursement of grantees to put pipes in safe smoking kits.” And White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that crack pipes “were never a part of the kit; it was inaccurate reporting.”

In response to those statements, Facebook began censoring posts containing the Free Beacon article.

The Daily Caller reports:

As of Wednesday afternoon, Facebook posts containing the Free Beacon’s story feature a warning label that includes a link to a Lead Stories fact-check and states the article contains “partly false information” that was “checked by independent fact-checkers.”

Lead Stories originally rated the Free Beacon’s article based on two tweets from HHS spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim, neither of which refuted the Free Beacon’s actual claim about HHS providing funding for distribution of crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia.

Lead Stories later updated its articles to hinge around comments from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta…

Ailan Evans, “Fact-Checker Censors Report On Biden Administration Funding Distribution Of Crack Pipes” at Daily Caller

Lead Stories’ labeling of the article is significant, explains Daily Caller, because, “When a third-party fact-checking partner rates a piece of content as ‘partly false,’ the content ‘will appear lower’ in users’ news feeds, which ‘significantly reduces the number of people who see it,’ according to Facebook’s Business Help Center.”

In this, there are two conflicting reports: An HHS spokesman told Free Beacon that there are crack pipes in the smoking kits. (And if he’s right, this wouldn’t be the first time crack pipes have been a part of government-funded harm reduction programs, most recently in Baltimore.) The White House and the HHS, on the other hand, claim that the smoking kits do not contain crack pipes. Who is to be believed?

In its reporting, Daily Caller pointed out that “Lead Stories refused to confirm or deny whether it used denials from cabinet members as primary source evidence for fact checks.” And Daily Caller editor-in-chief Geoffrey Ingersoll commented, “Giving unelected bureaucrats the benefit of the doubt despite all available evidence is a very low bar for the fact checking community.”

Lead Stories’ burial of the story raises the question: When official sources contradict each other, who has the authority to decide what is misinformation and what is not?


Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett was a Policy Analyst and Communications Liaison for the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her main areas of focus are in Big Tech and its impact on human freedom, as well as homelessness and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys delving into Lewis and Tolkien, cosmology, and running around historical sites on the East Coast. She graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Politics and Policy.

Fact Checkers Stifle Story on Government-Funded Crack Pipes