A prominent economist has revealed that Facebook placed a fact-checking label on a post asserting that the US has entered a recession, giving it a “partly false” rating as President Biden continues to reject the grim assessment of the economy.
Dr. Phillip Magness, the research and education director at the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank, shared a screenshot from his Facebook account, showing that the social media site had “independent fact-checkers” review his post from July 24, and that they found it was “partly false.”
“We live in an Orwellian hell-scape,” Magness tweeted on Thursday. “Facebook is now ‘fact checking’ anyone who questions the White House’s word-games about the definition of a recession.”
Facebook added a notice to the post warning that “people who repeatedly share false information might have their posts moved lower in News Feed to other people are less likely to see them.”
The correction comes after last week Biden denied that the US was in a recession, despite new data showing GDP had contracted for a second consecutive quarter, meeting the long-accepted definition of a recession.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the president sought to downplay the troubling report, and shift focus to near-record-low unemployment numbers and his administration’s progress on steps to tame soaring inflation.
“That doesn’t sound like recession to me,” he said, prompting GOP leaders to accuse the president of “gaslighting” the nation, with the Republican National Committee declaring the GDP report indicative of “Biden’s Recession.”
Other top administration officials followed Biden’s lead in dismissing the report showing the economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.9%, following the first quarter’s 1.6% decline.
“We should avoid a semantic battle,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters last week, adding that Americans’ “biggest concern is with inflation” and that they generally feel good about their ability to find a job and stay employed.
The determination of whether the US is technically in a recession is usually made by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which is a private, nonprofit research organization based in Cambridge, Mass.
A week before the release of the negative GDP report, the White House fired off a preemptive blog post denying that two consecutive quarters of falling GPD was the official definition of a recession.
The author of the post maintained that “holistic data” such as “the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes” figured into the real definition of recession.
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