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Meta suspends fact-checker ahead of Voice referendum

Cassandra Morgan -

Social media giant Meta has suspended a Melbourne university as its fact-checking partner following a dispute about the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Facebook owner on Tuesday cited RMIT FactLab's expired certification from the International Fact-Checking Network as a key reason behind the move.

It also pointed to the upcoming referendum and "allegations against RMIT" in the wake of claims its fact-checking program was biased in favour of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice to federal parliament.

RMIT FactLab became involved in a dispute over the Uluru Statement from the Heart when it labelled Facebook posts about the document's length as false.

The International Fact-Checking Network requires participants to demonstrate a commitment to non-partisanship and fairness, a Meta spokeswoman said.

"The (network) will determine whether RMIT FactLab's expired certification should be reinstated," the spokeswoman said.

"Considering both the nature of the allegations against RMIT and the upcoming referendum, we have decided to suspend RMIT from our fact-checking program pending the (network's) decision."

RMIT was aware of Meta's decision and its accreditation with the fact-checking network was being renewed, a university spokeswoman said.

The network had confirmed FactLab's fact-checking met all its standards and adhered to its code of principles, the spokeswoman said.

"RMIT FactLab stands by the accuracy of its work to date and remains dedicated to slowing the spread of viral misinformation and disinformation through its fact checks," she said.

"Fact checking aims to bring transparency to debate and reporting on issues of public importance and does not involve the removal or censoring of information."

All organisations accredited with the fact-checking network apply for renewal annually.

Meta remained steadfast in its commitment to stop the spread of misinformation and continued to partner with Australian Associated Press and Agence France-Presse in Australia, the Meta spokeswoman said.

Meta requires its fact-checking partners to be certified by the fact-checking network.

Cassandra Morgan - AAP

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