Craig Silverman tracks accuracy, errors & the craft of verification.

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3 lessons from the G20 Summit ‘Factcheckathon’

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Earlier this week, nine fact-checking websites joined forces to fact-check the statements made by world leaders during the G20 summit in Australia. Glenn Kessler wrote about the results in The Washington Post. I coordinated this first factcheckathon with Cristina Tardàguila from O Globo and took home three important lessons.

  1. Global fact-checking experiments can yield useful results for comparative politics
    Our fact-checking network caught three of the eight world leaders we were monitoring saying essentially the same thing: Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, Barack Obama of the USA and Matteo Renzi of Italy all said something along the lines of “large amounts of jobs were created under my government” – and then proceeded to inflate their records. What was interesting was not so much that politicians chose to dabble with figures, but that they did so in such a similar manner. While the rhetoric and imagery deployed by politicians may vary greatly across countries, facts are facts everywhere.
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Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014

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3 lessons in mobile, social and viral from Latin American newspapers

I recently spent two days at the beautiful offices of El Comercio, the largest and oldest newspaper in Peru. Grupo de Diarios América bought together journalists from newspapers all over Latin America for a seminar about social media. I was fortunate to be a speaker. But, mostly, I was lucky to spend a couple of days listening to journalists from news organizations I don’t read or follow. I want to share three things I heard that transcend any linguistic or regional concerns.

1. You are not in control of how people consume your content

Last year at this time, El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico was getting 30 percent of its digital traffic from mobile devices, with the remaining 70 percent coming from the desktop. This year, according to deputy general director Benjamín Morales Melendez, those numbers have reversed. They get 70 percent of their traffic from mobile devices. Read more

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Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014

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Top 5 falsehoods about Ebola

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter is republishing with permission.

The spread of Ebola in West Africa, and now into Dallas, has stoked plenty of misinformation about the Ebola virus, its origins and the government’s response.

PolitiFact and PunditFact have been fact-checking claims about the Ebola outbreak since July. Here are our top five falsehoods.

No, illegal immigrants haven’t carried Ebola across the border

In July, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming that people are crossing the southern U.S. border carrying Ebola, citing "reports."

But none of the reports were credible, and the experts we talked to said Gingrey was wrong. (And since he said this in July, it’s safe to say we’d know by now if he was right.)

Gingrey’s claim rates Pants on Fire.

No, the Ebola outbreak isn’t a Bill Gates/George Soros conspiracy

Several conspiracy websites raised questions about a "bioweapons lab" in Sierra Leone being the source of the virus. Read more

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Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2014

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Fact-checking the fallout from Bill Maher’s Muslim monologue

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)

The comments about Islam from comedian, social critic, atheist and cable talk show host Bill Maher continue to stir reactions across the TV dial and across the political spectrum.

It started on Maher’s Sept. 26 HBO show. In a monologue, Maher said that when Muslim nations suppress political rights and deny freedoms to women, homosexuals and minorities, they are fair game for harsh criticism.

He singled out liberals for their unwillingness to criticize aspects of Muslim culture.

"We hear a lot about the Republican ‘War on Women.’ It’s not cool Rush Limbaugh called somebody a slut. Okay," Maher said. "But Saudi women can’t vote, or drive, or hold a job, or leave the house without a man. Read more

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Monday, Oct. 06, 2014

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A fact-checker’s toast to ‘Crossfire’

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

The CNN show "Crossfire," which debuted Sept. 9, 2013, is on "indefinite hiatus," according to published reports.

The CNN show “Crossfire,” which debuted Sept. 9, 2013, is on “indefinite hiatus,” according to published reports.

After an eight-year hiatus, a revamped Crossfire was tapped to help launch a new era for CNN that focused less on news and more on the political back-and-forth that has become commonplace on MSNBC and Fox News.

But the show appears headed for extinction again, after less than a year on air.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that the show has been "withdrawn," a term that is perfectly mushy, yet fairly clear. New York Magazine described the show as on "indefinite hiatus."

The show debuted Sept. 9, 2013, and featured an alternating cast of liberals and conservatives, hosted by S.E. Cupp, Newt Gingrich, Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter.

Crossfire has not aired since July 15, 2014, and took an extended break in the spring so that CNN could devote time to the Malaysia Airlines crash. Read more

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Wednesday, Oct. 01, 2014

Fact-checking the war comparisons between Obama and Bush

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

The irony of President Barack Obama, Nobel Prize winner and putative anti-war candidate, launching extensive airstrikes in Syria, quickly led to comparisons with his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama walks with former President George W. Bush during the unveiling of his official portraits in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama walks with former President George W. Bush during the unveiling of his official portraits in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

PunditFact heard two different comparisons in recent days that we thought we were worth exploring.

Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the New Yorker summed it up in one tweet.

"Countries bombed: Obama 7, Bush 4."

That’s True.

We asked Lizza for his list and he sent us this:

Bush: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.

Obama: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

As we fact-checked Lizza’s statement, we found little reason to challenge the nations he named. Read more

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Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

Toronto newsweekly falls short on Buffy The Vampire Slayer trivia

Toronto’s NOW magazine had to issue a correction due its lack of Buffy The Vampire Slayer knowledge:

This article originally stated that Joyce Summers, the mother of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s titular character, succumbed to a cancerous tumour. As pointed out by Queen’s Park Briefing’s John Michael McGrath, Summers in fact died from an aneurysm [sic] that resulted from the tumour’s removal.

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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

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Fact-checking claims about domestic violence, Ray Rice

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

The release of a video showing NFL running back Ray Rice striking his now-wife in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator revived conversations about domestic violence on politics and sports shows alike.

This week, PunditFact and PolitiFact checked three claims about the prevalence of domestic violence in America and a claim about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial two-game suspension of Rice.

Three’s a crowd

On CNN’s State of the Union, Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise argued that Goodell should lose his job for his handling of Rice’s case.

"The thing that bothered me most is Roger Goodell at one point tried to play essentially a marriage counselor with the victim and the perpetrator, Janay and Ray Rice," Wise said. "He put the victim and the perpetrator together. Every domestic violence agency, every law enforcement agency, that’s a no-no."

Wise is right that Goodell met with the couple together. Read more

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Monday, Sep. 08, 2014

Amazing name leads to amusing Huffington Post correction

A Huffington Post story about a woman with an awesome name (“Cherries Waffles Tennis”) and her brush with the law resulted in an amusing correction:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Tennis was arrested for allegedly making “fraudulent purposes.” Clearly that is neither a crime nor a statement that makes any sense. She was arrested for allegedly making fraudulent purchases.

But that may not have been the original version of the correction. According to the Twitter account @_youhadonejob, the correction originally restated the mistaken text:

Fair warning: I didn’t see the original allegedly incorrect correction for myself on the HuffPost site.

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Tuesday, Sep. 02, 2014

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Fact-checking claims about the Islamic State

This story originally appeared on the PunditFact website. Poynter.org is republishing with permission.

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The violent terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State is eliciting fear from all corners of the world after its brutal advances through Iraq this summer, including the slaughter of religious minorities and soldiers and the video-recorded beheading of two American journalists.

How the United States should respond has been a ripe topic for pundits and politicians, with many dogging President Barack Obama for saying "we don’t have a strategy yet" to deal with the threat also known as ISIS.

Feeling lost in the chaotic developments?  Here’s a roundup of claims about the group that we have vetted so far.

Islamic State was too extreme for al-Qaida

In his final turn moderating NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory explored whether the group’s rapid growth was preventable.

"This is a terror state trying to construct a caliphate, cast off by al-Qaida because this group is considered too extreme," Gregory said Aug. Read more

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