A little less than a month after the International Fact-Checking Network and Facebook distributed more than half a million dollars in grant funding to 13 fact-checking organizations fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the pair awarded an additional $300,000 to eight separate fact-checking organizations.
Like the first round, the funding helped support fact-checking projects either in progress or in the process of launching. Some experimented with new formats, while others expanded their current fact-checking work to meet the immense scale of falsehoods wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
20 minutes – France | $40,000
Project: Oh My Fake
20 minutes produced a video series called “Oh My Fake,” which covered such topics as fake news and cognitive bias, and after the six-month grant period the videos have been a huge success. In its final report, 20 Minutes cites over 1 million views for each episode, and is currently producing a second season.
20 Minutes also produced a series of newsletters and a series of what it called “participatory” articles. These involved soliciting questions from its audience and answering them directly. These articles increased 20 Minutes’ engagement with its audience with each averaging around 200,000 views. The organization said its biggest takeaway was the need to actively engage with its audience to better understand their questions and concerns. This has helped 20 Minutes develop more engaging fact-checks and formats to meet its audience’s needs.
Liputan6 – Indonesia | $19,212
Project: COVID-19 WhatsApp Hoaxbuster
For this project, Liputan6 created a series of WhatsApp groups bringing together what it called “hoaxbuster activists.” These groups helped disseminate fact-checked and verified information about COVID-19 to counteract false information spreading virally across the platform. By the end of the grant period, Liputan6 had set up 14 groups across 10 regions of Indonesia that, in addition to getting verified information, were given basic media literacy and debunking skills.
Liptan6 also created a series of infographics and videos that it was able to distribute through its WhatsApp networks. Its biggest takeaway was the need to increase its cooperation with members of the public and civil society to extend the reach of its limited number of fact check reporters. Liputan6 said working with these groups showed that there is a public need for access to quality, verified information that helps empower the public conversation on topics beyond just COVID-19. Having these groups puts Liputan6 in a strong position to help that conversation.
ASL 19 – Iran (Canada) | $13,120
Project: Factnameh Instagram Outreach Project
Factnameh went after COVID-19 misinformation on Instagram, which its final report states is the only social media platform not yet blocked by the Iranian government. The organization relied on Persian hashtags related to the coronavirus to monitor misinformation circulating in Iran. This enabled the team to find the most influential Persian-language accounts spreading misinformation, which Factnameh was able to counter with its own catalog of fact-checking content.
It expanded into video pivoting from its text-heavy fact-checking to visually captivating content in order to take full advantage of a platform like Instagram. This increased Factnameh’s reach on the platform and showed it the importance of prioritizing multimedia content quickly stamp out fast-spreading misinformation. Factnameh said it will continue to perfect its processes, and build on the successes of the grant period going forward.
Fatabyyano – Jordan | $49,780
Project: F-19 Vs. COVID-19
Fatabyyano used the grant period to expand its multimedia and video work to better engage its audience in 19 Arab countries in the Middle East-North Africa region. It also added a sign language component to its video fact-checks to broaden the reach of its work.
It also launched a social media campaign encouraging mask-wearing by asking its audience to share pictures of themselves wearing masks. Its final report states this campaign increased engagement on its content and its connection to its audience. Its next steps are to try to automate some of its fact-checking processes to help increase the scale of its work.
Taiwan FactCheck Center – Taiwan | $50,000
Project: Combat COVID-19 Misinformation through Multimedia
Taiwan FactCheck Center was put in the enviable position of being in a country that has all but stamped out the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, this project shifted from debunking misinformation about the virus to increasing media literacy to help its wider Taiwanese audience fight misinformation on a broader scale. It posted instructional videos, held virtual fact-checking events, and even developed a digital literacy curriculum for schools and newsrooms.
This grew Taiwan FactCheck Center’s audience on all its social media platforms and its connections to other organizations working on media literacy in the region. It was able to expand not just its fact-checking work, but its advocacy for the importance of fact-checking, verification and digital literacy. It created a video titled “Why does accurate information matter?” that was shared widely on social media and sparked both discussion and reflection among its audience about the importance of having a communally shared basic set of facts.
VoxUkraine – Ukraine | $36,000
VoxUkraine was able to produce a television show and a YouTube series, and formed partnerships with both the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and UNICEF. It also translated 200 of its Ukrainian-language fact-checks into English to contribute to the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance database.
It estimates its work both broadcast and online reached about 9.2 million people. VoxUkraine’s report said it had some initial difficulties due to COVID-19 restrictions in Ukraine, but that it was able to pivot successfully and is now being consulted by political leaders in Ukraine about its expertise in debunking and misinformation.
RMIT ABC Fact Check – Australia | $50,000
Project: The CoronaCheck project
RMIT ABC Fact Check is a collaboration between the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the Australian Broadcasting Company. This grant helped the collaboration expand and support its existing COVID-19 newsletter, CoronaCheck. As of August, its online publication on the ABC News website reached an estimated 3 million viewers, and its subscriber base had reached 13,500 people and counting. Its content has been repurposed for television segments on ABC, as well as numerous social media posts.
The biggest impact of this grant was the ability to support RMIT’s efforts to educate its intern and student workforce in the research and production of fact checks. Students have begun to publish fact checks, which its report states would not be possible without the grant’s support.
PesaCheck – Kenya | $39,100
Project: Converting PesaCheck’s Content for Messaging
PesaCheck developed a WhatsApp distributed COVID-19 newsletter to help connect its mobile-first audience with fact checks published primarily on its website. The result was a huge growth in audience engagement not just with the WhatsApp channel, but with its website content as well. It has plans to expand into new formats including adding podcasting and video. PesaCheck is also finding ways to automate matching claims to previous debunks in its catalog of fact checks.