News you can use
Last week, a report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that citizens in eight countries still largely rely on the mainstream news media for accurate information about COVID-19. It also found a correlation between those who use news outlets to get information about the ongoing vaccination campaigns and lower susceptibility to vaccine misinformation.
The study surveyed respondents from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Argentina and Brazil. With the exception of Japan and Brazil, the study compared data respondents surveyed in April 2020 to those surveyed in April 2021.
While news organizations remained the most used in those countries, they were not the most trusted. Scientists, doctors and health experts were seen as most trustworthy — with news organizations ranking in the middle of the pack.
On average every source took a slight dip in trustworthiness between 2020 and 2021. Scientists, doctors and health experts saw the steepest declines in trust in Argentina and the United States. Despite these declines, however, this category remained the most trusted overall.
Politicians were seen as a major source of COVID-19 misinformation. In the United States, polarization impacted how respondents saw the problem. In April 2020, 57% of those identified as left-leaning said they saw a significant amount of misinformation from the government in the past week. That flipped in April 2021 with 60% of conservatives saying they’d seen a significant amount of misinformation from the government.
While reliance on news media correlated with a lower belief in vaccine misinformation, the opposite was true for messaging apps. In countries with the widespread use of apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, there was a strong correlation with belief in vaccine misinformation. This correlation was strongest in Germany, where anti-vax activists have used Telegram to get around content moderation practices on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
- Colombiacheck “Noticias Uno did not publish that ‘Venezuelans confess that Petro paid them to murder unemployed youth'” (in Spanish)
- Amid ongoing tensions between protesters and the Colombian government, a screenshot claiming to be from broadcaster Noticias Uno asserted a Colombian politician had secretly paid Venezuelans to kill protesters and blame it on the police. The outlet denied this, pointing out the screenshot used an out-of-date logo, and Colombiacheck found using a keyword search no corroborating evidence for the claim.
- Demagog.pl “Plasma of the vaccinated erases antibodies? Fake news!” (in Polish)
- A Facebook post showing a broadcast news piece about blood donation falsely claimed both that the Red Cross is not accepting submissions from vaccinated individuals and that antibodies from the COVID-19 vaccine destroy the body’s natural immune system. Demgog.pl spoke to experts who refuted the claim and explained that the antibodies boost your immune system rather than destroy it.
Updates from the IFCN
This is a new feature we’re rolling out for the first newsletter of each month where we highlight some of the IFCN’s work.
- There are currently 109 fact-checking organizations from 55 countries that are signatories to the IFCN’s Code of Principles — a set of best practices for fact-checking.
- 46 became new signatories in 2020.
- The IFCN has partnered with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting to help train journalists from 17 countries in topics such as basic fact-checking, leadership and audience engagement.
From the news:
- “Facebook says U.S. is the top target of disinformation campaigns,” from Axios. A report summarizing Facebook’s efforts to combat influence operations from 2017-2020 found the United States was the most frequent target of foreign interference campaigns, and second most frequent target of domestic interference campaigns.
- “Progressive Group Indivisible Launching Grassroots Disinformation-Fighting Campaign,” from Forbes. The all-volunteer “Truth Brigade” plans to blanket the internet with user-generated debunking content. The hope is that this user-generated content will have a farther reach than automated fact-checking content.
- “How censorship became the new crisis for social networks,” from Platformer. Tech platforms are now contending with government takedown orders, complaints from both sides of the political spectrum, and issues of overzealous artificial intelligence when managing their content moderation responsibilities.
- “Advanced AI speech tech could be used to generate disinformation online, study finds,” from The Hindu. Researchers studied OpenAI’s GPT-3 program, which with a few prompts was able to generate 15 human-sounding tweets denying the existence of climate change.
From/for the community:
- “Wilfredo Keng withdraws 2nd cyber libel suit vs Maria Ressa,” from Rappler. The second case was over a tweeted screenshot of a 2002 Philippine Star article alleging Keng’s involvement in the death of a public official.
- “The international network of ‘Doctors for Truth’: a denialist trademark registered by the Spaniard Natalia Prego,” from Maldita.es. A small group of doctors in Germany and Spain has been actively spreading COVID-19 disinformation, which has since spread like wildfire in Latin America.
- “Artefato: A cultural movement to combat misinformation about Covid-19,” from AosFatos. The first of a series of art projects incorporating Aos Fatos’ fact checks went live on its Wednesday. The project, which is partially supported by a grant from WhatsApp and the IFCN, plans to use works of art to combat COVID-19 falsehoods.
- “Fact-checking census shows slower growth,” from the Duke Reporters’ Lab. The 2020 fact-checking census counted 341 active projects, however, only 19 new fact-checking projects launched between July 2020 and June 2021 compared to 61 the previous year.
If you are a fact-checker and you’d like your work/projects/achievements highlighted in the next edition, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org by next Tuesday.
Thanks for reading Factually.