Thirteen fact-checking organizations around the world have two reasons to celebrate this April 2. It is the International Fact-Checking Day and their projects have been selected to receive flash grants to help fight misinformation about COVID-19.
In this first batch of announcements, the Coronavirus Fact-Checking Grants, supported by Facebook and the International Fact-Checking Network, is distributing more than half a million dollars to support projects that will provide translated fact checks, debunked content in different formats and also help public authorities receive reliable information to better communicate about COVID-19.
Among the thirteen recipients, there are seven from Europe (Italy, Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Turkey, Montenegro, and Lithuania). Three are from Latin America (Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico). And the others are from Asia (India), Africa (Congo) and one from the United States. (Read more about them below)
According to the schedule the recipients have submitted in their applications, the projects will start as soon as possible (some of them are already taking place) and will last for up to six months. Each organization has listed at least two key performance indicators (KPI) and should be able to achieve them in the time frame of the grant.
The goal of Coronavirus Fact-Checking Grants announced on March 17, is to curb mis/disinformation about the pandemic and also strengthen the fact-checking community.
Since January, more than 100 fact-checkers have been collaborating in the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance to create the largest COVID-19 misinformation database. The support offered by Facebook will highlight this work even more.
“It’s great to see such a high volume of significant fact-checking work being done around COVID-19 and the International Fact-Checking Network is committed to supporting the community in every possible way during these challenging times. This first round of announcement will hopefully be a source of motivation for fact-checkers to scale up their efforts to inform their audiences with accurate and reliable information even when the stakes are against them,” said Baybars Orsek, the IFCN’s director.
The second batch of recipients is scheduled to be announced before the 1st of May on a rolling basis. The deadline for applications, however, was closed on April 1st.
Read more about each recipient:
Pagella Politica – Italy | $48,011
Chatbot for Q&A on COVID-19
Pagella Politica and its debunking spin-off Facta will develop and incorporate a chatbot on their homepages as a way to help people get faster answers for COVID-19 questions. In the chatbot, users will be able to type in their COVID-19 question and receive the latest information. The team will work in partnership with the San Raffaele Hospital, in Milan.
CongoCheck – Congo | $43,000
Project: SMS Covid19
The organization will make available to the public a short number to which all those who wish to receive verified information about COVID-19 can subscribe and instantly receive a summary of fact-checked articles about the new coronavirus each time a new one is published. The system has the capacity to send 5000 SMS per second.
Newschecker.in – India | $50,000
Project: Chat/Voice-based Dissemination of Information
The organization will build a Google Assistant Voice Action and an Alexa Skill in both English and Hindi languages that will address symptoms, precautions that should be taken and inform where the nearest health center providing COVID-19 tests is. Viral misinformation will be debunked as well. The team will also work on WhatsApp.
Raskrinkavanje.ba – Bosnia & Herzegovina | $49,530
Project: Emergency Fact-checking Response to SARS-CoV-2
The two major goals are to “fasten content production and better communicate with the public”. The organization will increase the number of people debunking hoaxes, will set up a translation and verification team with research experience and work to curb the spread of disinformation on Viber (very popular in the Balkans) and Whatsapp.
Ellinika Hoaxes – Greece | $34,400
Project: CoronaFacts Initiative
The team will use its experience in the field of graphic design, video editing and animation to produce material that will help its audience to understand the relevant details about what the new coronavirus is, it’s effects on people’s health, the details of epidemiology regarding the new epidemic as well as how people can protect themselves and why they need to so.
Doğruluk Payı – Turkey | $24,600
Project: Truth Against COVID-19 Misinformation
The organization will publish scientific articles about the new coronavirus to Turkish and translate them as a way to inform the public about the latest findings in the field. The team will hire a writer, to increase the number of debunked articles, and also a video producer to create short, informative, fact-based videos about the situation. The aim is to catch a younger audience.
Raskrinkavanje.me – Montenegro | $39,840
Project: Combating COVID19 infodemic in Montenegro
The team will publish not only fact-checked articles about COVID-19, but also animated videos and infographics. They will launch a radio podcast, planned to last 6 months, and be active on Viber, largely used in Montenegro. Instagram influencers are also expected to play a role in this project.
15min.lt – Lithuania | $48,000
Project: Info-vaccine: fighting COVID-19 misinformation outbreak
Newtral – Spain | $50,000
Project: Automation for WhatsApp
The organization will automate the most cumbersome tasks of the Whatsapp verification process, so manual fact-checking can be focused on what is most important – content verification. By using technology, the team plans to improve its process by internally organizing the messages it receives via this channel, speeding up the fact-checking task to offer quick and reliable information, and to properly manage the great volume of information. It will also develop tools to monitor, distribute and coordinate remote fact-checking work.
La Silla Vacia – Colombia | $35,400
Project: Special Covid-19 microsite
The project seeks to create and maintain a special microsite regarding the COVID-19 crisis. It will include a basic guide about the virus and the pandemic, some explainers, myth-busting content, fact-checked articles for websites as well as for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The team will also keep updated data on the situation in Colombia and the neighbor countries.
Animal Político / El Sabueso – Mexico | $49,728
Project: El Sabueso: combating COVID19 disinformation
The organization will create and work to make infographics go viral with useful information about the pandemic, not only debunked articles but also educational material. The goal is to double the capacity to produce multimedia content and to reach larger audiences.
Agência Lupa – Brazil | $49,900
Project: Fighting Coronavirus Misinformation
The team will produce a daily newsletter to be sent to state/municipal health agencies and to the Brazilian Medical Association pointing out the main hoaxes, will launch a second daily newsletter for the general public, a weekly podcast focused on health-issues only and partner with digital influencers to spread fact-checked content.
PolitiFact – United States | $39,319
Project: PolitiFact video fact-checking on coronavirus
The organization will use video formats to fact-check misinformation about COVID-19 and explain the stories that result from it, including social and economic repercussions. There will be two tracks: quick fact-check videos for mobile users and scrollers and longer explainer pieces for YouTube watchers.