The Week in Fact-Checking: How misinformation spreads on WeChat

April 26, 2018
Category: Fact-Checking

The Week in Fact-Checking is a newsletter about fact-checking and accountability journalism, from Poynter's International Fact-Checking Network & the American Press Institute's Accountability Project

In the U.S., an overlooked platform for misinformation

The influence of misinformation among Chinese-speaking immigrants in the United States offers important clues for how fake news is constructed and distributed, according to a new paper published by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

Chi Zhang found that, while many popular web hoaxes in the U.S. deal with jobs, the economy and healthcare, many of the ones on WeChat — a popular messaging app among Chinese immigrants — deal with issues like affirmative action or illegal immigration. That disparity, as well as the fact that there’s a low barrier to entry for new publishers, allows misinformation to go unchecked.

Research
(Shutterstock)

Research you can use

  • In a paper for the Knight Foundation, Syracuse University researcher Emily Thorson says that fact-checking is unlikely to be effective unless fact-checkers know what their audiences do and don’t understand.
  • First Amendment enthusiasts typically believe that the answer to false speech is more speech and truth will triumph. Not necessarily so, says a Duke University professor.
  • New York University hoovers up current research on social media misinformation and identifies the “gaps” that still need to be studied. 

This is how we do it

Amazon
(Shutterstock)

This is bad

  • Sellers are using Facebook to get fake reviews on Amazon.
  • This student loan expert has been cited in publications like The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. There’s just one problem: He doesn’t exist.
  • In El Pais: Meet the “everyday Spanish people” whose lives have been ruined by the spread of misinformation.  

This is fun

  • This is how Van Morrison fights fake news.
  • Comedy Central’s Jordan Klepper will be interviewed by The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart tomorrow at a live event in D.C.
  • Sadly, there is no green moon, there was no green moon, and there will never be a green moon.
Fake news Kenya
This tweet from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi from Aug. 14, 2017, calls out an alleged embassy document as being fake news. The United States government is gearing up to fight fake news in Kenya. (U.S. Embassy Nairobi/Twitter via AP)

A closer look

  • People in Kenya are learning about fake news in their country — from the U.S. State Department.
  • Facebook’s project to fight nefarious political advertising went into effect this week. But Nieman Lab asks if Facebook can really “beat back fake news” in Ireland; and The Conversation has some advice for the platform in Canada.
  • At least two social platforms think they’ve got this fake news thing figured out. Read Wired’s interview with Flipboard, and the Axios interview with LinkedIn. On the other hand, Snapchat …

Coming up

African drones
In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, a drone is launched in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

If you read one more thing

African journalists are using drones and satellites to fight misinformation in remote regions. But the government hasn’t made it easy.

12 quick fact-checking links

  1. We were not fans of this headline on a New York Times story about Facebook’s Campbell Brown.
  2. Fake “models” on Instagram are not as harmless as you think.  
  3. Here’s a short, new video on how anyone can fact-check news in Malaysia.
  4. NewsGuard will have a “fake news hotline.”
  5. Fact-checkers in Brazil are bracing for an onslaught of fake news going into this fall’s election.
  6. Here are our quick thoughts on today's European Commission report on tackling disinformation.
  7. Here’s everything else you need to know about misinformation in the EU this week.
  8. Who do most Americans want to fight fake news? Tech companies – not the government.
  9. A Florida politician’s campaign got some attack ads pulled after citing PolitiFact in a cease and desist letter.
  10. Here are 16 ways to fact-check hoaxes on WhatsApp, from the IFCN’sInternational Fact-Checking Day tip sheets.
  11. BuzzFeed News rounded up the rumors about the Toronto van attack suspect.
  12. PBS begins a four-part series on "Facebook's battle against misinformation."

Until next week,

DanielJane, and Alexios