June 9, 2020

Fact-checkers across the globe responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with dramatic increases in their fact-checks, which drew unprecedented audiences to their sites, an International Fact-Checking Network survey shows.

Sixteen fact-checking organizations from 15 countries responded to a survey about their performances designed to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the work of the fact-checking community from March 2019 to March 2020.

ColombiaCheck saw the largest page-view growth with an increase of 1,090%. Two of its more popular fact-checks were a hoax about Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi’s son contracting COVID-19, as well as a four-year-old speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin with fake Spanish subtitles.

“We were able to hire more people thanks to some COVID-19 projects, and the top viewed pages were COVID-19 related,” said ColombiaCheck director Pablo Medina Uribe.

Indian fact-checking organization FactCrescendo had the second-highest increase in page views jumping 940% from the previous year.  Italian fact-checking organization Pagella Politica had  the third largest increase with 778%.

All the organizations in the survey are part of the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance. Since January, the alliance, organized and supported by the IFCN, has compiled over 6,800 fact-checks in more than 40 languages from organizations in more than 70 countries.

Of the 14 organizations that reported page-view data, 12 saw increases over 100% compared with the previous year. Turkish fact-checking organization Doğruluk Payı and Australian fact-checking organization RMTI ABC fact-check were the only two with less at 46% and 31%, respectively.

Almost all fact-checking organizations surveyed increased their output compared with the previous year. A third increased their number of fact-checks by over 100%, with Indian fact-checking organization  Newschecker.in seeing the largest increase. In March 2019, Newschecker.in produced 18 fact-checks. In March 2020, that number jumped by 1,200% to 234. Fellow Indian fact-checking organization FactCrescendo had the second-largest increase in the number of fact-checks by 446% from 90 to 491. Georgian fact-checking organization MythDetector had the third-largest increase with 307% from 15 to 61.

FactCrescendo and Newschecker.in had the first- and second-most fact-checks in March. Fact-Crescendo reported producing 491 fact-checks, and Newschecker.in reported producing 234. American fact-checking organization PolitiFact, a part of the Poynter Institute, had the third-highest number of fact-checks with 192.

Irish fact-checking organization TheJournal.ie produced 20 fact-checks in March 2020, but outpaced all others in the survey in the average number of page views for that month. TheJournal.ie reported its average daily page views in March were just over 1.6 million.  The second-highest number belonged to PolitiFact, with just under 400,000. Indian fact-checking organization BOOM had the third-highest average with 100,000.

Harrison Mantas is a reporter for the International Fact-Checking Network covering fact-checking and misinformation. Reach him at hmantas@poynter.org or on Twitter at @HarrisonMantas

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Harrison Mantas is a reporter for the International Fact-Checking Network covering the wide world of misinformation. He previously worked in Arizona and Washington D.C. for…
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