Four major tech companies take new steps to combat fake news

The Week in Fact-Checking is a newsletter about fact-checking and accountability journalism, from Poynter's International Fact-Checking Network & the American Press Institute's Accountability Project. Sign up here.

The platforms strike back

Did these guys coordinate? Over the course of one week, we saw notable announcements from four major tech platforms. Each seemed like a positive if small step forward — and each also raised questions that need to be answered.

YouTube will be surfacing authoritative sources in search results during breaking news in order to push out the regular dribble of conspiracy theories, but defining “authoritative” might be tricky. WhatsApp is now labeling forwarded messages and working with fact-checkers and researchers, but will it be enough to limit the spread of viral rumors? Facebook launched its data-sharing partnership with academics, but will it result in meaningful methods to counter fake news? Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June — with more on the way — but will it cut down on breaking news hoaxes?

At a press event yesterday in New York City, Facebook took questions from reporters about its anti-misinformation efforts. They got a few mixed answers, and a lot of questions still remain about tech companies' ability to single-handedly limit misinformation — but hey, at least they’re doing something.

Turkey election
A day after elections, people read the headlines of newspapers, featuring coverage of the elections, in Istanbul, Monday, June 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

This is how we do it

  • In a report about hoaxes circulated during Turkey’s snap election, Teyit found that while Twitter had the highest concentration, fake content on Facebook still got more interactions.
  • Applications are now open for two IFCN fellowships. Apply by Aug. 31 for the chance to win $2,500 to embed with a fact-checking project in another country.
  • In the U.S., Tegna is bringing an audience-driven fact-checking initiative to local TV markets.

This is bad

Mediamentorproject.com
(Screenshot from MediaMentorProject.com)

Research you can use

A closer look

WhatsApp was the vector “in the epidemic of deadly rumor” currently gripping India but “the focus on their role obscures other factors of equal or perhaps greater importance,” writes The EconomistScroll.in reported that the image of a child abductor, which many of the WhatsApp rumors have focused on, is rooted in folklore and now urban legend.

12 quick fact-checking links

  1. Happy third birthday to Aos Fatos! The Brazilian fact-checkers take stock of their results and challenges in this post.
  2. After four months of fact-checking the Mexican election, Verificado 2018 has shut down.
  3. Don’t do this. Just don’t.
  4. Facebook has reportedly expanded its fact-checking project to Pakistan and Sweden.
  5. Daniel spoke about fake news, fact-checking and Facebook on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
  6. A U.S. government-funded fact-checking site published allegedly false quotes from an American reporter who appeared on Russia Today and our heads hurt.
  7. Here’s how to fact-check in press-restrictive countries, now in Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish.
  8. Diego Armando Maradona has offered a $10,000 reward to identify the source of a fake WhatsApp audio message claiming he died after Argentina's World Cup match against Nigeria.
  9. Correction of the Year. Or maybe this one is.
  10. In World Cup-related fake news: That Henry Maguire tweet was a prank and the Red Devils’ defeat against France was not invalidated.
  11. These websites translate anti-Muslim propaganda in Europe to English, then distribute them to the U.S.
  12. The NATO Summit declaration mentioned disinformation twice.

Until next week,

Daniel and Alexios

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