OSLO, Norway – GlobalFact is an annual fact-checking and journalism conference hosted by the International Fact-Checking Network. This year marks the world’s largest fact-checking summit’s ninth iteration. It will be held in Oslo, Norway, from June 22 to 25, at Oslo Metropolitan University. Virtual tickets are also available.
Here’s more about six of the headliners at this year’s GlobalFact.
Dr. Joan Donovan is a leading disinformation researcher and research director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, which focuses on the intersection of media, politics and public policy. She is also director of the Technology and Social Change Project, — or TaSC — which examines methods of media manipulation, control over public conversation and democracy influence. The Shorenstein Center website says TaSC “facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns.”
TaSC’s Media Manipulation Casebook compiles and aggregates information, theory, successful implementations and case studies related to dis- and misinformation. The project is a “team of interdisciplinary researchers analyzing how contemporary technologies of communication are used by different groups to bring about social change, for better or worse.” It has examined and documented information warfare of all stripes, including that of the Milk Tea Alliance, the “Save the Children” conspiracy hashtag and coordinated hashtag campaigns targeting elections in Chile.
Donovan is also a columnist at MIT technology review, and has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other nationally-recognized publications. She is published in various academic journals, including Nature, Social Media + Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Information, Communication & Society, and Social Studies of Science. Her latest book, “Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America,” describes how the Jan. 6 riots manifested from online communities.
Donovan co-created the beaver emoji and has coined many of the terms used in contemporary disinformation media and research.
Jane Lytvynenko is also a researcher at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center and at TaSC.
“I’m focusing on devising a training curriculum for newsrooms and academics, auditing research and digging into media manipulation cases globally,” Lytvynenko writes of her work.
Lytvynenko was a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News, where she broke stories exposing online manipulation campaigns. She has also independently reported for outlets such as The Guardian, VICE, The Atlantic and MIT Tech Review.
As a native Ukrainian, Lytvynenko has written much about the Russia-Ukraine war. In February, when fighting first broke out, Lytvynenko published “I Can’t Stop Watching a Livestream in Kyiv,” detailing some of the history of the conflict, images of the war and her thoughts while consuming news and watching Reuters’ livestreams of both Kyiv and Maidan.
Lytvynenko has written in Spanish, English and German.
Anne Applebaum is currently a staff writer for The Atlantic, and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for her book, “Gulag: A History.” She has written extensively on the history of the Soviet Union, previously publishing such books as “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” and “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956.” Applebaum was a Washington Post columnist for over 15 years and a correspondent for The Economist in Warsaw in the late ’80s and early ’90s, during the fall of Polish communism.
Her most recent book, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism,” describes a trend among “some of her contemporaries” of eschewing liberal ideas of democracy and favoring “strongman cults, nationalist movements or one-party states.”
“People are not just ideological,” Applebaum writes. “They are also practical, pragmatic, opportunist. The authoritarian and nationalist parties that have arisen within modern democracies offer new paths to wealth or power for their adherents.” The book describes common patterns between the “politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and others who have abandoned democratic ideals” in favor of “illiberalism.”
Applebaum has published articles in Polish, Spanish, English, German and French.
One day, while visiting friends in Memphis, Tennessee, then-student Peter McIndoe found himself inadvertently spectating a right wing counterprotest to the mass protests shortly after President Donald Trump was elected. Almost without thinking, the story goes, he picked up a sign, wrote “birds aren’t real” on it and started proselytizing, an obvious parody of conspiracy protests. Onlookers took a video and uploaded it to the internet. It went viral and the rest is history. He’s been peddling the satirical conspiracy, and gaining a following, ever since.
“If it flies, it spies” is an oft-repeated refrain from McIndoe and his followers. In McIndoe’s world, CNN is the chicken news network.
“It’s the most important movement on the face of the earth, some may say,” McIndoe recently said in an interview with radio personality Howard Stern.
In interviews, including that one, McIndoe has broken character to explain the joke behind the conspiracy. “It was sort of this idea of like holding up a mirror to the lunacy,” he has said.
You can read more of the very detailed mythology about “Birds Aren’t Real” here.
Craig Silverman currently investigates, reports and writes for ProPublica. The focus of his writing and research has been primarily online false information and media manipulation.
Silverman won the George Polk Award for his work uncovering how Facebook shows users disinformation. “Facebook Gets Paid,” “Facebook Fired An Employee who Collected Evidence of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment,” and “How Facebook Failed Kenosha” are a few in the series that received the Polk. Silverman also won investigation of the year from the Canadian Association of Journalists for his work detailing an international Facebook scam. You can read more about that in “Trap King: How A Massive Facebook Scam Siphoned Millions Of Dollars From Unsuspecting Boomers.”
Silverman previously worked at BuzzFeed News, where he served as media editor.
Patrícia Campos Mello
Patricía Campos Mello is a decorated Brazilian journalist working at Folha de S. Paulo as a columnist and reporter-at-large. Her work spans broad topics from the Afghanistan war to the Ebola epidemic to the refugee crisis in the Middle East.
In 2019, Mello won the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists for her work uncovering the business deals of a pro-Bolsonaro group promoting the Brazilian president on social media channels, including WhatsApp. In response to her coverage, Mello was threatened on social media and through phone calls. She was doxxed on multiple occasions and forced to hire a bodyguard and cancel public appearances.
“The attack on Campos Mello was one of the most visible cases of doxing in a year and election cycle in which dozens of journalists were harassed and criticized for their reporting,” the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote in an article.
Mello has worked as a correspondent across multiple countries and continents.