July 13, 2021

The International Fact-Checking Network, a global coalition of fact-checkers, has been monitoring the increasing number of harassment cases against its more than 120 verified signatory organizations operating in 62 countries. Incidents of harassment, ranging from online attacks to in-person threats, often lead to stress among the staff of these organizations beyond the norms of standard journalistic criticism. This effect is particularly pronounced in countries where the freedom of press and expression is systematically challenged.

Over the past 12 months, more than 30 organizations have reported some type of harassment and/or threat from political actors or institutions, from publishers and/or from users on tech platforms whose falsehoods are flagged by fact-checkers as a part of their work with social media companies, especially Facebook. (The IFCN receives funding from Facebook, and members of the platform’s Third-Party Fact-Checking program are required to be signatories to the IFCN’s Code of Principles to participate).

The IFCN facilitated a gathering of some 50 fact-checking leaders last month to discuss the trends and similarities between the many cases of harassment against fact-checkers and how to respond to abuse or scare tactics. The conversation, initially organized to respond to the threat of violence recently faced by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian fact-checking organization Raskrinkavanje, sparked this initiative to launch a working group to monitor IFCN’s efforts in this field.

The IFCN circulated an invitation for nominations to join this working group and formed two subgroups to respond to these challenges.

One subgroup will act as the core for consulting and planning by convening on a monthly basis to discuss reported harassment cases and advise IFCN with action items. This group will be provided with immediate updates on every harassment case reported by the fact-checking community and be asked for their guidance and input.

Invited and approved by the representatives of the member fact-checking organizations, the core group member are:

Ana Brakus | Faktograf.hr | Croatia
Angie Drobnic Holan | PolitiFact | United States
Barbara Whitaker | The Associated Press | United States
Ellen Tordesillas | Vera Files | Philippines
Gülin Çavuş | Teyit | Turkey
Jency Jacob | Boom | India
Maarten Schenk | Lead Stories | Belgium / United States
Pablo M. Fernández | Chequeado | Argentina
Rabiu Alhassan | GhanaFact | Ghana
Thanos Sitistas | Elinika Hoaxes | Greece
Tijana Cvjetićanin | Raskrinkavanje | Bosnia-Herzegovina

A larger group formed by the participating representatives from the fact-checking community will convene on a quarterly basis to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the IFCN’s actions to help fact-checkers respond to harassment and threats. It will also provide feedback to the IFCN and publish quarterly “Harassment against fact-checkers” reports with the IFCN for verified signatories and the public.

This broader group is composed of the following persons:

Angie Drobnic Holan | PolitiFact | United States
Barbara Whitaker | The Associated Press | United States
Ellen Tordesillas | VERA Files |Philippines
Gülin Çavuş| Teyit | Turkey
Jency Jacob | BOOM | India
Maarten Schenk | Lead Stories | Belgium
Pablo M. Fernández | Chequeado | Argentina
Rabiu Alhassan | FactSpace West Africa (GhanaFact) | Ghana
Thanos Sitistas | Ellinika Hoaxes | Greece
Tijana Cvjetićanin | Zašto ne (Raskrinkavanje, Istinomjer) | Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ana Brakus | Faktograf.hr | Croatia
Coreena Enet Suares | NewsMeter | India
Egle Zicari | 15min | Lithuania
Enock Nyariki | PesaCheck | Kenya
Inga Springe | Re:Baltica/Re:Check | Latvia/Estonia
Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez | Colombiacheck | Colombia
Justin Arenstein | PesaCheck // Code for Africa (CfA) |Kenya
Keti Khutsishvili | Myth Detector | Georgia
Kshipra Narain | NewsMobile | India
Lee Mwiti| Africa Check | South Africa
Malkhaz Rekhviashvili | Factcheck Georgia / GRASS | Republic of Georgia
Martina Stewart | USA Today | United States
Rajneil Rajnath Kamath | Newschecker – NC Media Networks Pvt Ltd | India
Stefan Voss | Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) | Germany

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Baybars Örsek is the director of international programming at the Poynter Institute and director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), the premier global coalition of…
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