Fighting the Infodemic: The #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance
Led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance unites more than 100 fact-checkers around the world in publishing, sharing and translating facts surrounding the new coronavirus. The Alliance was launched in January when the spread of the virus was restricted to China but already causing rampant misinformation globally. The World Health Organization now classifies this issue as an infodemic — and the Alliance is on the front lines in the fight against it.
This map illustrates the volume of fact-checks in the global database today. It reflects the number of fact-checks we have published from our contributors across the world. It is not an indication of the volume of misinformation seen or shared in each country. Please use the filters to refine your view.
The CoronavirusFacts database is updated daily. Members use simple tools to collaborate on this massive crowdsourcing project: a shared spreadsheet and instant messaging apps. This international collaboration has allowed our members to respond faster and reach larger audiences.
Waves of hoaxes
This graphic shows the categories of fact-checks, which are helping our alliance identify successive waves of misinformation as they travel across the globe. When the new coronavirus pandemic started, many hoaxes were about the origin of the virus. Then the alliance detected falsehoods on how the disease spreads, and cures and preventions. Now we are finding hoaxes about religious groups, politicians and the impact of COVID-19 on a country’s health system.
This is why it matters
During a pandemic, combating mis/disinformation is crucial to public health. Just like the virus itself, rumors and falsehoods flow over borders, causing what is now called a universal infodemic. Our international collaboration is essential in this battle. The database of falsehoods is now the best source an individual can access when questioning information about the novel coronavirus.
Our alliance members are persistent in their pursuit of accuracy. Often with health misinformation, we see falsehoods being shared by well-meaning people in their family group chats. Some, however, are coming straight from politicians or are being politicized. Members of the alliance have checked quotes from and about presidents, prime ministers, congressmen, governors and mayors. False information has been found in all points of the political spectrum throughout 74 countries. Members of this alliance have also debunked conspiratory theories, including the allegation that COVID-19 is linked to 5G networks or to HIV. Spend some time with the database. The filters can help you search efficiently. The content is definitely intriguing.
What have we learned?
Collaboration is the key
The CoronaVirusFacts Alliance is the largest collaborative project ever launched in the fact-checking world. For this reason, it has faced obvious barriers (like language and time differences) and new challenges. The toughest of them is that we don’t know when the crisis will end.
The number of audience queries about the virus surpassed what we received during recent elections, which typically generate surges of misinformation. This, combined with the need for faster answers and the financial difficulties some organizations are facing, has meant the fact-checking community is working under tough circumstances.
And yet, the novel coronavirus is a developing story that scientists and journalists all over the world are still researching. Fact-checkers have learned that applying dates and times to our work is essential.
The CoronaVirusFacts Alliance has also proven that falsehoods travel fast around the planet. This reinforces the importance of working together. Members see each other as partners in a big international newsroom. We are not competing.
We have demonstrated that transparency, credible sources and media literacy are powerful tools against mis/disinformation. And we hope these concepts spread throughout the world too.
Follow the Facts
Fact Check Database
The #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus database gathers all the falsehoods that have been detected by the Alliance and will be updated daily to include new publications. You can sort, filter and search for content.
You can also find fact-checks by the alliance on this Twitter list. Please note: fact-checks are not automatically translated.
Researching COVID-19 misinformation? Come join us!
The IFCN has opened a call for research proposals. Submit your ideas here until May 29. Grant recipients will be notified by June 19. (Delayed due to Global Fact 7)
Power in your pocket: WhatsApp chatbots
On May 4, the IFCN launched a WhatsApp chatbot that allows English speakers to easily access all data available in the CoronaVirusFacts database with a few keystrokes. WhatsApp users just need to click this link or text “hi” to +1 (727) 291-2606 to get the bot’s welcome page.
Since January, members of the alliance have been connected — day and night — through a robust email listserv and an active Slack channel, coordinated by the IFCN’s associate director, Cristina Tardáguila, and Jules Darmanin, the program manager.
In less than two months, the group has published 3,500+ fact-checking articles and weekly reports pointing out misinformation trends and discussing ways to improve the battle against COVID-19 hoaxes. Read all of them below:
Members of the Alliance
As of June 18, 2020, the members of the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance include:
(99 members: 15min.lt, 20 Minutes Fake off, AAP FactCheck, AFP, AfricaCheck, Agência Lupa, Agencia Ocote, Animal Político, Annie Lab, Aos Fatos, Bolivia Verifica, BOOM FactCheck, BuzzFeed Japan, Check Your Fact, CheckNews, Chequeado, Colombiacheck, Congo Check, Convoca.pe, Correctiv, Décrypteurs – Radio-Canada, Delfi Melo Detektorius (Lie Detector), Demagog, Détecteur de rumeurs, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Digiteye India, Doğruluk Payı, Dubawa, Ecuador Chequea, EFE Verifica, Efecto Cocuyo, Effecinque – SkyTg24, El Surtidor, Ellinika Hoaxes, Estadão Verifica, FactCheck Georgia, Factcheck.kz, FactCheckNI, FactCheck.org, Factcheck.Vlaanderen, FactCrescendo, Factly, Factnameh, Faktabaari/FactBar, Faktograf, Fatabyyano, France 24 Observers, franceinfo, Full Fact, GhanaFact, India Today, INFACT, Istinomer, JTBC news, Källkritikbyrån, La Nación, La Voz de Guanacaste, La Silla Vacía, LeadStories, Les Décodeurs, Maldita.es, MediaWise, Misbar, Mygopen, Myth Detector, Newschecker, Newsmeter.in, NewsMobile, Newtral.es, Nieuwscheckers, Observador, OjoPúblico, Open, Pagella Politica, Periodismo de Barrio, PesaCheck, Poligrafo, PolitiFact, Rappler, Raskrinkavanje, Re:Check, Salud con lupa, Science Feedback, Spondeo Media, StopFake.org, Sure And Share Center MCOT, Taiwan FactCheck Center, TEMPO, Teyit, The Quint, TheJournal.ie, TjekDet.dk, VERA Files, Verificado, Verificador de La República, Vishvas News, Vistinomer, VoxCheck and Washington Post Fact-Checker)
Is it still possible to join the CoronaVirusFacts / DatosCoronaVirus Alliance?
No. The CoronavirusFacts / DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), is no longer accepting new members. The application period lasted from Jan. 24 to April 5, 2020.
All the organizations that have joined the alliance are established fact-checkers — either verified signatories of the IFCN’s Code of Principles or organizations that have been supported by one of the IFCN’s members. Single-person operations were not accepted.
If you are a fact-checking organization that is producing content about COVID-19 and couldn’t join the alliance, please start using the hashtag #CoronaVirusFacts on the fact-checks that you publish on Twitter and contact us. We will gladly add your handle to this Twitter list.