June 26, 2024

One journalism organization will take home the International Fact-Checking Network’s inaugural award for Best Research, to be conferred June 28 at the 11th annual GlobalFact conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

To qualify for the award, organizations must have conducted vigorous research that significantly advanced the understanding of misinformation and its effects. Unlike other awards, which only award journalism produced in the past year, the Best Research award was open to any work conducted in the past decade. 

The six nominated organizations span three continents, and topics range from war-time fact-checking to various ways artificial intelligence can be used in fact-checking. 

Finalist Japan Fact-Checking Center, in collaboration with the International University Global Communication Center, conducted a large-scale survey on fact-checking, mis/disinformation and effective education. The survey, conducted in February 2024 and published in April 2024, polled more than 20,000 people in its preliminary stages and 5,000 in the main study and sought to identify the tendencies of those who believe, create and spread false information and those who are adept at recognizing errors. From there, it offered insights into educational methodologies and how to target fact checks, including prioritizing fact checks on disasters, health and politics. 

Ukraine’s Gwara Media’s submission, done with Kharkiv National University of Economics and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, analyzed the massive waves of disinformation circulated to audiences in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war. Utilizing Gwara’s “Perevirka” bot on Telegram, researchers identify 24 primary thematic waves of disinformation. By identifying these themes, researchers were able to recommend countermeasures and recommendations for information consumers. 

Newtral, from Spain, worked with ABC Australia to develop Claim Check, an AI tool that uses a semantic similarity model to detect repeated falsehoods. The study proposed a definition for claim matching, outlined the scheme for annotating similar sentences and presented the results of experiments conducted with the tool. Ultimately, the experiments demonstrated that these AI models can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of claim matching, assisting fact-checkers in detecting previously fact-checked claims quickly and accurately. 

Meedan, based in the United States, also focused on claim matching in its research. In its 2021 paper, the technology not-for-profit focused on developing models and datasets to claim-match across languages, including traditionally underserved languages. This study showed the model developed by Meedan, I-XLM-R, outperformed similar models for non-English claim matching and is currently utilized in newsrooms in the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil and India. 

Myth Detector, also a finalist for Most Innovative Format, focused its research on gendered misinformation, particularly those targeting women and members of the LGBTQI community. Published in 2023, the study analyzed sexist hate speech and gendered misinformation in the nation of Georgia, delving into the sources of the content, examples and extrapolating the main messages disseminated, many of which focused on the pretext of protecting family values and children.

Rappler, from the Philippines, conducted a two-year investigative effort into dubious health products posted on social media targeting Filipinos and the tactics used to mislead consumers. Moreover, Rappler found that many of these products, though presented as locally made, are managed by page administrators from outside the Philippines.

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Alanna Dvorak is the International Training Manager with IFCN, where she helps produce interactive learning materials for journalists around the globe. Prior to her current…
A. Dvorak

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