What does your Terms of Service mean by “intentional misinformation”?

Our Terms of Service prohibits “intentional misinformation” that’s designed to “mislead”. We’re occasionally asked what that means.

The short answer is that it’s not okay to spread claims that have been declared false or misleading by multiple reputable independent fact-checking organizations, especially if those claims are potentially damaging to health or to trust in democracy.

To expand on that, we first want to emphasize that we host sites representing all sorts of political viewpoints, and we take pride in it. A robust discussion of ideas is good for democracy, and we don’t go looking for things to ban.

That said, sometimes people try to spread specific widely debunked “factual” information that’s actively harmful to health (such as the claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause more deaths than they prevent, or that the molnupiravir drug is the same as Ivermectin), or that’s actively harmful to democracy (such as the claim that the 2016 Wisconsin election results were fraudulent due to broken voting machine seals, or that Dominion Voting Systems counted votes in foreign countries in the 2020 election). Those claims have been found false or misleading by independent fact-checking sites including poynter.org, factcheck.org, fullfact.org and snopes.org.

If a specific debunked claim is presented as fact, and such claims make up the focus of a site, we don’t want to host it. Such sites aren’t reasonable attempts at discussion, but rather attempts to spread falsehoods that can hurt people or damage faith in democracy.

In contrast, for example, opinions about whether COVID-19 masking policies are actually worth the potential reduction in virus spread among children, or opinions on what the requirements should be for absentee voting, are fine. These aren’t false claims; they’re public policy discussions that are essential to democracy.

We encourage people to ask themselves: would my site present things as fact, even though they’re marked as false or misleading by poynter.org, factcheck.org, fullfact.org and snopes.org? If so, it's a potential problem; if not, you should be fine.