April 29, 2021

Factually is a newsletter about fact-checking and misinformation from Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network. Sign up here to receive it on your email every Thursday.

I’m just answering questions

Podcast host Joe Rogan made headlines in the United States this week for suggesting healthy young people do not need to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While his comments sparked the expected division and derision on social media, they highlight some of the questions fact-checkers have been trying to answer to help the public confront vaccine hesitancy.

FactCheck.org, which launched its SciCheck project back in 2015, has reams of answers to frequently asked questions about the pandemic and vaccines, which they’ve recently made available in English and Spanish. One page discusses the nuances about the emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines and explains the extra steps these vaccines needed to go through for approval.

In Africa, the fact-checking collaboration Viral Facts has taken a similar approach, producing videos that answer people’s questions and concerns about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. In a Ghanaian TV interview, GhanaFact managing editor Rabiu Alhassan explained how his organization and several others in the collaboration were able to quickly address questions about reported blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports came out from the European medicines agency.

Argentinian fact-checking organization Chequeado helped its audience by developing a page that profiled each of the vaccine candidates being considered for use in the country. Argentinians can read about the effectiveness of each vaccine, how many doses have been distributed, and learn about potential side effects.

While fact-checkers have the tools to help people grappling with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s impossible to ignore the power highly followed figures like Rogan have. That’s why organizations like MediaWise in the United States and collaborations like Canal Reload in Brazil have tapped into the influencer model to fight falsehoods through fact-checking and online media literacy training.

And while there is still plenty of research being done on the impact of fact-checking on behaviors, fact-checkers know the importance of being a resource rather than a scold to those seeking answers.

Interesting fact-checks

Screenshot from Rappler

  • Rappler “FALSE: Canned goods from China contain flesh of COVID-19 victims,” (in English)
    • This is a rehash of a claim that first appeared in Zambia in 2016 and prompted a reply from the Chinese ambassador. Rappler also found a similar falsehood among Africa Check’s archives from 2019. To date, China has only sent medical supplies and vaccines to the Philippines, but no canned goods.

Quick hits

AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

From the news: 

From/for the community: 

Events and training

  • May 12IFCN Talks #5: Proactively incorporating public health knowledge into fact-checking: FactCheck.org co-founder Kathleen Hall Jamieson will expand on her new model of fact-checking that focuses more on proactively preempting falsehoods with explanatory content Sign up here.
  • May 10-13The United Facts of America Festival: PolitiFact’s week-long celebration of fact-checking will include 10-hours of programming featuring speakers Christiane Amanpour, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, CNN’s Brian Stelter, and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner. Get tickets here.

If you are a fact-checker and you’d like your work/projects/achievements highlighted in the next edition, send us an email at factually@poynter.org by next Tuesday.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
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…
Harrison Mantas

More News

Back to News