Day five of Global Fact 7 capped off the largest global gathering of fact-checkers in history. It began with a discussion of important updates to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. It featured back-to-back panels of fact-checkers showing off projects they believe will advance the field of fact-checking. And it concluded with an announcement from the IFCN and Facebook of a second round of funding for the Fact-Checking Innovation Grant.
Here are some Day five highlights:
Higher standards in fact-checking: IFCN’s Code of Principles
- Baybars Örsek | International Fact-Checking Network, Director
- Ferdi Ferhat Ozsoy | International Fact-Checking Network, Program Manager
- Peter Cunliffe-Jones | International Fact-Checking Network, Senior Advisor
“If fact-checking needs to mean anything, it needs to be impartiality,” said IFCN’s senior adviser Peter Cunliffe-Jones, who was also responsible for updating the code for the last six months of 2019.
During Friday’s session, Cunliffe-Jones emphasized that the code is being adopted by more than 90 fact-checking organizations. That’s not only a way to hold the community accountable, but also to help fact-checkers to improve their standards.
“With the code, users can see and understand how organizations operate,” he explained. “It’s about trust.”
In the Q&A session, which included IFCN’s director Baybars Orsek and IFCN’s program manager Ferdi Ozsoy, Cunliffe-Jones gave details about one of the most important updates made to the code.
“Almost all media houses are seen as partisans nowadays because they publish opinion pieces and so on. So, if a media house wants to have a fact-checking organization, now it needs to adhere to the principle of accuracy. IFCN’s assessor will need to look at their correction policy too,” said Cunliffe-Jones.
This means that if the fact-checking unit is part of a larger media company, the IFCN will now require that the parent media company also adheres to an open and honest corrections policy before the fact-checking team gets recognized by IFCN.
When asked about how to stick to the non-partisan principle in hostile countries where governments promote dis/misinformation, Cunliffe-Jones emphasized another change made to the code.
“In some countries where one side in the political debate produces far more misinformation than the other, to fact-check both sides equally makes no sense,” he said. “Initially the code said a fact-checking organization should not concentrate the work on anyone’s side. We chanced to declare that a fact-checking organization should not focus unduly on anyone’s side.”
Ozsoy informed the community that the Code of Principles website is being translated into Spanish and Portuguese and said that there will be a couple of workshops about the code next week, during the private track of Global Fact 7 (reserved for fact-checkers).
Show and Tell
Moderator: Harrison Mantas | International Fact-Checking Network, Reporter
- Glenn Kessler | Washington Post, Editor and Chief Writer
- Şükrü Oktay Kılıç | Teyit, Digital Strategy Lead
- Pablo Medina Uribe | ColombiaCheck, Director
- Alexa Volland | MediaWise, Multimedia Reporter
- Natália Leal | Lupa, Director of Content
In every Global Fact, the Show & Tell session is among the most expected. The fact that great fact-checkers have only a few minutes to present to a large audience a bit of their work and a lesson they have learned makes it both a thrilling panel and a relaxed moment to share experiences.
Based on the database kept by the Post, which has gathered more than 19,000 false or misleading claims made by U.S. President Donald Trump, Kessler wrote a 386-page book in about six weeks, aiming to highlight what he calls “the impact of Trump in the society.”
At first, the book was only going to cover the first three years of Trump’s administration, with chapters about foreign policy, Twitter, etc. But COVID-19 became a massive source of dis/misinformation, and Kessler was able to write an extra chapter about the president’s behavior during the pandemic.
The lesson for the fact-checking community is quite clear.
“If you are a fact-checker where there is a leader with a tendency to tell a lot of falsehoods, set up your own database. You might find material for a book that people in your country would really appreciate.”
Şükrü Oktay Kılıç, from the Turkish fact-checking organization Teyit, was the second “on stage. He showed seven different storytelling formats used by his team to tackle coronavirus misinformation.
In less than 10 minutes, Kılıç presented Teyit’s project to showcase fact-checks in screens displayed in bus and metro stations and discussed their newsletter, their video production for Youtube and Instagram, their podcast and their WhatsApp stickers.
“What did we learn covering almost all available storytelling formats? We now have 1 million followers across all social media platforms. We engage online and offline with them. We know our community better and can engage with them much better than mainstream media,” said Kılıç.
Pablo Medina, from ColombiaCheck, surprised the audience by sharing the story of the day his team couldn’t fact-check. On Nov. 21, 2019, videos suggesting that burglars were invading houses went viral in the city of Cali. Since Colombians don’t have much faith in the police nor in local media, ColombiaCheck (based miles away) felt helpless. The next day, however, the same videos started to spread in Bogota. The only thing the fact-checkers could do was to inform the public the same video had been shared the night before in Cali, hoping that Colombians would make the connection.
“What we learned that day is that fact-checking is not really enough here in Colombia. More research and more media literacy is needed if we want fact-checks to be impactful,” he concluded.
Natalia Leal, from Agencia Lupa in Brazil, showed how her team has been working to make science a bit easier to understand by developing different fact-checking products. Since the pandemic started, Leal’s team launched a podcast season entirely dedicated to COVID-19, and started summarizing — in easy-to-understand language — the latest scientific publications about the new virus. Lupa also reached out to digital influencers and Brazilian celebrities to raise awareness. The team has developed two newsletters, one focused on the general public and one specifically written to health authorities.
Leal said she has eight fact-checkers in her team and finished by reminding the audience how important it is to empower the staff.
“In times like these, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Empower your team. Let them work. Be there when they need and listen to them. Build a trust environment,” she emphasized.
Volland coordinates students who debunk falsehoods on social media and fight misinformation while teaching others basic tools to assess the veracity of social media content.
The group has debunked more than 400 claims related to the coronavirus and is highly recognized in the United States. They don’t only say if a claim is true or false. In their social posts, teenagers explain — step by step — how they got to a certain conclusion so others can learn from their example.
“This week, here at Global Fact 7, I heard many people saying it is important to integrate media literacy into fact-checks. This is what the Teen Fact-Checking Network is all about,” said Volland.
To guarantee quality control, Volland has strict rules.
“First they send me their script. It goes through a very intense editing, because, of course, they are still teenagers. Then they post the results of their fact-checks in a dummy TikTok account. Only after (that) we publish it as MediaWise. This is how we maintain the fact-check level.”
Fact-Checking Innovation Initiative winners: Roundup
- Cristina Tardáguila | International Fact-Checking Network, Associate Director
- Michael Bolden | JSK Stanford, Managing Director
- Orlando Watson | Facebook, Strategic Partner Development
- Liesl Pretorius | Africa Check, Info Finder Editor
- Fabiola Torres Lopez | Salud Con Lupa, Founder and Director
- Mehmet Atakan Foça | Teyit, Founder
- Carlo Canepa | Pagella Politica, Fact-checker
- Jovana Prešić| Istinomer, Project Coordinator
- Nabeela Khan | Health Analytics Asia, Deputy Editor
- Venu Arora | Ideosync Media Combine, Director
“Woo hoo!” exclaimed IFCN Associate Director Cristina Tardáguila after Facebook’s Orlando Watson announced that his company would contribute an additional $450,000 for a second round of fact-checking innovation grants. This project is a collaboration between The Facebook Journalism Project and the IFCN to promote new fact-checking projects, technologies and innovative formats.
In fall 2019, fact-checking organizations had the opportunity to apply for grants ranging from $30,000 to $70,000. In this second round, fact-checking organizations can be awarded up to $100,000 in grant money and have until July 24 to apply.
Michael Bolden, managing director at JSK Stanford, spoke to the first round grant recipients, who updated the community on the progress of their grant-funded projects.
Liesl Pretorious, editor of Info Finder at Africa Check, talked about trying to create a platform to increase access to reliable data for Africans across the continent. The Info Finder Tool began as a repository of reliable sources; however, Pretorious realized this wasn’t solving the end problem of access to data. Africa Check pivoted to create an easily searchable repository of facts, and began developing partnerships with African fact-checking organizations to create a repository of fact-checks. They also built a help desk to connect journalists to reliable data.
Fabiola Torres Lopez, founder of Peruvian health fact-checking network Salud Con Lupa, talked about creating a collaborative online community to promote a culture of critical thinking when it comes to health information in Latin America.
Torres Lopez discussed Latin American journalists’ lack of access to reliable health information. Her organization created partnerships with health non-profits, medical experts and even members of the public to produce fact-checks for its online platform.
Mehmet Atakan Foça, founder of Turkish fact-checking organization Teyit, discussed how his organization used free ad space in Istanbul’s public transit system to deliver its fact-checks across Turkey’s largest city. Each fact-check also contains a short lesson on media literacy, and with the help of the Facebook grant, Foça said Teyit will be able to expand to four metro areas across the country.
Carlo Canepa, a fact-checker with Italian organization Pagella Politica, plans to survey the fact-checking community to learn about the most effective ways each has found to engage with its audience. The Facebook grant will support the collection and analysis of this data, which Canepa said Pagella Politica plans to release in a report later this year.
Jovana Prešić, project coordinator at Serbian fact-checking organization Istinomer, discussed her project to create a browser extension enabling the public to both read and request fact-checks. Prešić said they plan to release the extension in September, and is working on a similar project that will work with mobile phones.
Venu Arora, director of Ideosync Media Combine, talked about her work to connect underserved communities in India to fact-checking through radio broadcasts. Arora noted that in developing parts of India as well as the rest of the world, radio is the best resource for information. Her program will create a curriculum to train Indian radio journalists to incorporate fact-checking into their news broadcasts. Arora said she hopes to export this curriculum to other countries that also rely on radio news.
Speaking in a pre-recorded video, Nabeela Khan, deputy editor at Health Analytics Asia, discussed creating boot camps to train medical professionals in the basics of fact-checking. She said Health Analytics Asia has so far trained over 3,000 doctors, journalists and health researchers. Some doctors have come on board as fact-checking contributors, which Khan said brings the credibility of their medical expertise to their fact-checking.
Cristina Tardáguila is the associate director of the International Fact-Checking Network and the founder of Agência Lupa. She can be reached at email@example.com.