ICYMI: Here are all the notes you need from Global Fact 5

ROME — More than 200 people from 56 countries gathered at the St. Stephen's School in Rome from Wednesday to Friday this week for the fifth annual Global Fact-Checking Summit.

During the three-day conference hosted by the International Fact-Checking Network, fact-checkers, academics, technologists and other experts will convene to exchange best practices and learn more about the fight against misinformation. Topics run the gamut from reaching out to skeptical audiences and Russian disinformation to debunking hoaxes on messaging apps and fact-checking during a humanitarian crisis.

Of course, not everyone who’s interested in fact-checking can be in Rome this week. That’s why, throughout Global Fact, Poynter and a three-student team from St. Stephen’s will be publishing notable tips and takeaways to this live blog, which will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Check out all the sessions here, and follow @factchecknet and #GlobalFactV to join the conversation.


Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 


Day 1

“Five years ago, no one was doing conferences on fact-checking. Today, everyone is," Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network, said during his opening remarks at Global Fact.

That fitting intro gave way to a day full of show-and-tells, panels and small group meetings about fact-checking and how to combat misinformation. Below are some takeaways from the day, broken up by talk. Learn more about the panels here.

Opening remarks

  • Poynter is now creating fact-checking programs for middle and high school students in order to help them be able to differentiate between fact and fiction, President Neil Brown said.
  • The gender ratio of leadership in fact-checking is more equal than in other parts of the media. Almost two out of five IFCN verified signatories have a female editor or director, Mantzarlis said.
  • There are now 149 active fact-checking projects around the globe, Duke Reporters' Lab co-director Bill Adair said. (Disclosure: The Reporters' Lab helps pay for Global Fact.)
  • The Reporters' Lab has now expanded its FactStream app to compile fact checks from (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact, Factcheck.org and The Washington Post Fact Checker all the time — not just during live events

Formats, Impact & Research

  • In order to reach out to skeptical audiences, PolitiFact traveled to three U.S. states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. It also fact-checked 54 local claims in Alabama, West Virginia and Oklahoma. “We don’t do a good enough job, probably, of explaining how we do what we do,” said Aaron Sharockman, executive director of PolitiFact.
  • Sharockman said his team could try to do something like this again, and that the entire project had three main takeaways:
    • It was resource-intensive for a small staff
    • The actual fact-checking work is more difficult on a local level
    • It had more impact in local markets
  • Maldito Bulo uses an app to distribute its debunks to mobile phone users, said Clara Jiménez Cruz, founder of the fact-checking project — an easy, straightforward and viral process. It also publishes photos and videos to reach a larger audience on platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram.
  • Facebook conducted original research to figure out what users think when they encounter a debunk on the platform. The aim was to figure out what was going well for them and what was not, said Grace Jackson, a UX researcher at Facebook. (Disclosure: Being a signatory of the IFCN's code of principles is a necessary condition for Facebook's fact-checking partnership.)
  • What Jackson said she found was that, since people often scroll really quickly and get distracted while using Facebook, they often make incorrect assumptions about posts — particularly those that had been labeled as fact checks. So they tweaked the feature slightly to include ratings in headlines and a "fact-checker" badge.

Russian disinformation: Pervasive or NBD?

  • Anna Zafesova of La Stampa talked about Russian disinformation, how Russians view it as normal and how wars and other historical events gave way to it. She identified a key problem: Russians think other countries are lying while they think Russia is lying. “The very nature of truth starts to disappear,” she said.
  • When Russian President Vladimir Putin goes on TV and says there are no Russian troops in Ukraine when they're clearly are, he's saying that truth doesn't matter, said Peter Pomerantsev of the London School of Economics and Political Science. "They don’t even try to make it look real — they don’t particularly care if it’s false," he said.
  • Glenn Kessler, who runs The Washington Post Fact Checker, said that since Russian disinformation never really stops, it can be hard for fact-checkers to keep up. But what they're doing isn't really unique — Pomerantsev said that most public relations companies employ the same strategies during marketing campaigns.
  • Most Russians get their news from TV, so that's where foreign journalists should focus their efforts when combatting misinformation, said Liepa Želnienė of 15min.

    Brace for the Coming Fake Videogeddon (or Not)

    • Computer graphics can perform visually plausible live edits to someone's appearance in video, said Christian Reiss of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. One example is Face2Face, which re-renders a speaker with another person’s facial expression.
    • Reiss said researchers can use machine learning techniques to detect manipulated videos, but that can be thwarted depending on the quality of the video. Denis Teyssou of the Agence France-Presse said the InVid browser plugin is one good way to do that by running a reverse image search on keyframes.
    • When it comes to detecting deepfake videos, tools are great, but classic fact-checking is still a good place to start, Teyssou said. Look for not-so-subtle alterations to the subject's face and do a Google search to see if the video has been covered by mainstream outlets.
    • Reiss said he thinks deepfakes were an expected form of misinformation. But he said that the technology is still fairly rudimentary and they're limited to a very specific set of cases — because making a deepfake is pretty hard for normal people.

    The Chequeado Story

    • Chequeado is a fact-checking project that cropped in a country where the government was messing around with official statistics, Mantzarlis said. Its story has many takeaways for other fact-checkers.
    • When Chequeado first started, they had no sources of funding and almost shut down after a year, said Laura Zommer, executive director of the organization. But through persistent fact-checking, as well as drawing upon questions from the public and publishing in a humorous way, they were able to find an audience.
    • Zommer said Chequeado's biggest success is in teaching people how to fact-check and encouraging them to engage with data and facts. "The second part of secret: we aren’t going to win, we are going to pair up – we think that is the best way to do it," she said.
    • Chequeado has partnerships with some of the biggest media companies in Argentina, which broadens its reach and brings in more income. The outlet has turned potential competition into alliances — and the increased attention has made politicians more transparent with their facts.

    The Future of ClaimReview

    • Over the past year, Google has been surfacing fact checks in search results using the Schema.org ClaimReview markup. It's become a key traffic-driver for fact-checkers around the world.
    • Google now accounts for about 60 percent of PolitiFact's traffic, Adair said — a huge percentage of which is due to ClaimReview.
    • In search results, fact checks get a rich text format with the claim, who said it and the verdict all appended to a link. But Milka Domanovic of Istinomer said that feature isn't translating her fact checks from English. Google's Simon Baumgartner said he'd look into the problem.
    • Adair asked: Would Google consider prioritizing fact checks from IFCN signatories in search? Baumgartner said it sounds like a good idea, but it's a slippery slope.

    Fact-checking in the Classroom

    • Not all claims are easily checkable, and that makes it hard for instructors to teach students how to tell truth from falsities.
    • "Media literacy is too often seen as a silver bullet that could solve our fake news issue," said Gabriela Jacomella of the European University Institute/Factcheckers.it. At the beginning, it felt empowering — but it puts a burden on teachers and creates expectations.
    • Media literacy, including fact-checking, is very volatile. Pushing to solve media literacy without a budget is hard for teachers, who don’t have enough time or money, so nothing is happening. Here are some potential solutions:
      • Lobbying for a more structured presentation of media literacy and education fact-checking in school curricula and making it compulsory.
      • Interdisciplinary research and strategic coordination
      • Collaborative efforts to produce and share tools and materials for a network of diverse cultures and teaching environments.
    • Chequeado has split fact-checking concepts into several different lessons for students:
      • Fact and data versus biases and opinions
      • Types and qualities of reliable sources
      • Identifying misinformation
      • How to build databases
    • “It's better to go to high school teachers because they already realize the problem of fact-checking among their students,” Jacomella said.

    Regional breakouts

    • Fact-checkers in the Asia breakout talked about potential ways they could collaborate across borders, such as creating a shared database of previously debunked hoaxes — especially videos and images from WhatsApp. However, bridging language barriers is a challenge.
    • Some schools in Europe don’t do fact-checking, and 18 schools across Europe are now helping to develop a new methodology to improve fact-checking.
    • Ucheck is a crowd-sourced fact-checking platform where users can put up facts that they believe to be incorrect. Then all the users can vote to say if they believe the fact to be fake news or not by providing reliable sources, with a moderator deciding the outcome.


    Day 2

     "Somewhere between lies and the truth lies the truth."

    That Damien Hirst quote, which displayed during The Whistle's presentation of its content management system on Thursday, is a fitting summation of the second day of Global Fact.

    With sessions spanning from more show-and-tell to a talk on misinformation in East Asia, here are the highlights from the day.

    Formats

    • Michal Sella and Boaz Rakocz from The Whistle showed off their "Integrated Fact-Checking System," a CMS for the Israeli fact-checking project. Rokocz said it was important to have accessible, user-friendly systems because "in Israel we have to monitor everything and everyone.”
    • The qualities of The Whistle's system are:
      • User-friendly
      • Searchable
      • Centralized and customized
      • Generates two databases at once
      • Advanced search
      • Creates metadata
      • Aggregates items and accumulates topics
    • Derek Thomson of France 24 Observers talked about how the network of verifying images has helped the fact-checking project, which publishes online in French, English, Arabic and Persian — as well as on TV shows. “Our main utility is our network of observers ... we quote ordinary people in their own words," he said.
    • The observers are:
      • Ordinary people who become trusted local sources
      • Recruited story by story
      • In a database with location and contact
      • Have numbered 5,000 in 10 years
    • Having local observers contributing to verification efforts helps in several ways, including:
      • Tips for suspicious videos and photos
      • Social media reporting from the scene of news
      • Local knowledge to confirm basic details about a story
    • France 24 has also been bringing fact-checking into high schools, with curricula on how to identify fake news and fact-check it.
    • Tobias Reckmann of WDR German Public Television spoke about how to use images and video in fact-checking, which his organization does with Wahlwatch. "The most powerful mechanism on social media is videos," he said.
    • Pauline Moullot showed off CheckNews.fr — the rebrand of Libération's Désintox fact-checking project. The outlet now asks its audience which claims it should fact-check, then compiles them into a searchable database. The project also won the IFCN's Fact Forward innovation fund this year.
    • CheckNews wants to deploy in other countries to help other media outlets find claims to check. It has already done this in Tunisia for local elections this year.

    What Regulators Think

    • Marco Delmastro from the Italian Communications Authority spoke about how regulatory agencies are thinking about information disorder. "We love problems because we only work when there are market failures ... we are experimenting with disinformation problems," he said.
    • The Italian media ecosystem has had issues with online information, including an underinvestment in investigative journalism and an underproduction of news in social issues, Delmastro said.
    • Social media users tend to aggregate in echo chambers, where they shape and reinforce their worldview by discussing and interacting with like-minded people, Delmastro said. That makes fact-checking particularly difficult online.
    • Here are some things Delmastro said we should study about how fact-checking affects misinformation:
      • Managerial procedures and routines of fact-checking organizations
      • Formats of fact-checking articles
      • Promptness and audience
      • Which issues they cover
      • The link between fake news, fact-checking and the media

    Fact-checking in a Humanitarian Crisis

    • Antonio Martínez of Horizontal talked about what it was like to verify information in the aftermath of September's earthquake in Mexico City for Verificado 19S. He spoke about the how legacy media landscape in Mexico helped push a false story about a girl who suffered in the earthquake — but she never existed. "The most important thing is that you need to verify the facts," he said.
    • Milena Marin of Amnesty International talked about Syria and fact-checking the photos, videos and claims during the refugee crisis. Looking at the migrant problem in France and Turkey, she said she wants to make fact-checking more academic and create more databases for claims — especially on immigration and refugees.
    • When a crisis happens, Marin said Amnesty deploys researchers on the ground, talks to eyewitnesses and documents what happened. 
    • Phyu Phyu Thi of the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization spoke about the Myanmar crisis and how fact-checking Facebook pages, videos and images has affected the Rohingya crisis.

    The Perils of Perception

    • Phoebe Arnold of Full Fact interviewed Bobby Duffy from Ipsos MORI about his book, "The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything."
    • Duffy said he started research with Tony Blair Government, when crime was going down but people didn’t notice — instead, they were getting more worried about crime. What he found was that what news valued was something negative and shocking; those topics were always high up in media outlets.
    • "People generalize much more from their own perceptions than the real experience," Duffy said. That affects how people view fact-checking, too.
    • In the study, Duffy found that Italy did pretty badly when it came to matching perceptions with reality, while  Sweden and Germany did the best. It's very difficult to pick out why, but the thing that was most connected was emotional expressiveness — how emotionally expressive different countries had a correlation with results.
    • Fact-checking will have an increasingly key role in trying to change the system and correcting information afterward, Duffy said.

    Quo Vadis Facebook Fact-checking

    • Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons gave an updated on how the tech company's anti-misinformation efforts have developed over the past year and a half. (Disclosure: Being a signatory of the IFCN's code of principles is a necessary condition for participation in Facebook's fact-checking program.)
    • During the presentation, Lyons announced several updates to Facebooks efforts:
      • Facebook is now using machine learning to detect duplicate fake news stories that fact-checkers have already debunked. That’s expected to cut down on the volume of hoaxes.
      • Facebook will use machine learning to predict which pages are likely to share misinformation based on similar pages fact-checkers have identified.
      • Facebook is starting to use the Schema.org ClaimReview markup, which allows Google to surface fact checks in search results. This should cut down on the amount of time it takes for fact-checkers to debunk hoaxes on Facebook.
      • Facebook has expanded a test that allows fact-checkers to debunk both manipulated and out-of-context photos and videos on the platform to four countries.
    • Lyons said Facebook realizes three things:
      • They have to take part in fighting the spread of misinformation
      • They have to be careful because they don’t understand this problem and its complexities all around world — so they need to partner with experts
      • They are making progress — but not fast enough and not in all countries. They need to be held accountable and need more transparency

    Reaching the Resistant Audience

    • Jane Elizabeth of the American Press Institute discussed her top seven tips for how to reach out most effectively to unwilling audience members. The problem is that people often make decisions with emotions, not facts — American partisanship is a good example of this. People are fact-resistant because: 
      • Fear and discomfort
      • Lack of exposure to facts and too much exposure to misinformation
    • Liberals are more likely to read about social issues, the environment, natural disasters and science and technology, Elizabeth said. Meanwhile, conservatives are more likely to respond to stories about traffic and weather, business, the economy, crime and public safety. When writing and fact-checking, make sure that you are covering everything about those topics, she said.
    • Tip 1: Attack issues, not people — the focus is on the issue, not the person.
    • Tip 2: Consider your sources.
    • Tip 3: Avoid “polarizing” brands that could split your audience along partisan divides.
    • Tip 4: Choose words carefully — do not choose words just because they lean towards one partisan group in the U.S.
    • Tip 5: Work with combatants and those who abuse you. They want to know that you have knowledge about the subject. 
    • Tip 6: Remember that people want to be right.
    • Tip 7: Add a positive point or two — be respectful and humble and aim for the middle of the aisle.

     Is Fact-checking More Fun on the Radio?

    • Charlotte McDonald from the BBC, Russell Skelton from RMIT ABC Fact Check and Samba Badji from Africa Check discussed the benefits of fact-checking on the radio, as well as playing with audio and images.
    • The BBC World Service radio station is pre-recorded, so it can really craft stories around fact-checking. It talks through its fact checks and brings radio to life by trying to build the scene with fact-checkers and give an idea of how they go about fact-checking. The goal is to build a story with drama and make the experts characters, McDonald said.
    • Africa Check is using radio to try and reach a larger audience. It has partners in South Africa, Nigeria and Senegal, where people who go on the radio do fact-checking segments completely live. Here's the structure:
      • Find person and find the source
      • Narrate every step they took
      • Highlight the importance and difficulty of finding all the information that goes into fact checks
      • Sample that the person originally said said
      • Go to the person who made the claim
      • The host asks question, and there are always people calling in who will ask questions
    • It's hard to remember details live on air, but you have to avoid being a pundit who's only there to comment. You have to step back, but mistakes can be made by anybody.
    • Africa Check also has fact-checking podcasts, where the priority is to:
      • Not worry about the time frame — the product is informational and trying to entertain people for the length of the program
      • Make it a good listen for at least nine minutes
      • Make it a service for your audience
    • For Africa Check, the radio is a more important and effective tool than TV or the internet in most cases. Trying to bring conversation into a medium which is all about speaking is really important. It's also important to Important to bring in personality  — but not so much that it's always funny, otherwise it might seem that you are making an opinion about a fact check. 

    Mapping the Misinformation Ecosystem in Asia

    • Masato Kajimoto of the University of Hong Kong highlighted some of the challenges that misinformation poses in several different coutnries in Southeast Asia, with the help of fact-checkers from those regions.
    • Yvonne Chua said that Vera Files has faced brutal partisan attacks and threats on social media since joining the IFCN. How have they fought back? "Don't feed the trolls," she said.
    • Karen Rebelo of Boom Live said that hundreds of people have been killed across the country because of WhatsApp misinformation. Vigilante mob lynchings have happened.
    • Dinda Purnamasari of Tirto.id is the only Facebook fact-checking partner in Indonesia. She said they have had an experience to Vera Files in terms of online attacks, and that a lot of misinformation is concentrated on WhatsApp.
    • Kajimoto emphasized the fact that many countries in Asia don’t have complete democracies and as such can easily legislate against misinformation, such as Malaysia.
    • Batuhan Ersun of Dogruluk Payi said fact-checking is tough in Turkish political climate, and that not saying “lie” or “lies” has helped in limiting the threats to the fact-checking project.
    • Pavel Bannikovof Factcheck.kz said that Russian disinformation is really common in Kazakshstan — especially against Muslims and LGBTQ people.

    Awards

    • Best Audiovisual
      • Fact-checking on the blackboard | Pagella Politica
      • Fact-checking on Instagram Stories | El Objetivo (WINNER)
      • Fact-Checking a Viral Anti-Refugee Picture | Jack Werner
      • #wahlwatch – Factchecking made for Social Media | WDR
    • Best Correction Obtained
      • Was a tribute to French rock star Johnny Hallyday "disrupted" by radical leftist groups? Nope | AFP Factuel
      • Conservative candidate pressures stations to pull inaccurate ads after fact-check | PolitiFact
      • World Bank revises brief following Africa Check’s depression fact-check | Africa Check (WINNER)
      • No, Marielle was not married to Marcinho VP, did not get pregnant at 16 and was not elected by the Red Command | Aos Fatos
      • Cleaning A Factual Oil Spill | Chequeado

    Day 3

    The future was nigh on the final day of Global Fact.

    During the half day of sessions, topics spanned from how to investigate internet hoaxes to the future of misinformation on messaging platfoms like WhatsApp. Here are some highlights from the day.

    Automation 

    • Adair showed off the Reporters' Lab's various automated fact-checking projects as part of its Tech & Check Cooperative, including FactStream and Tech & Check Alerts. The former is an app that pulls fact checks from PolitiFact, The Fact Checker and Factcheck.org into one feed, while the latter is an automated email alert that asends fact-checkers checkable claims from TV transcripts.
    • Next up, Chequeado's Pablo Martín Fernández presented Chequeabot, a system that automatically scans media outlets from around Argentina for checkable claims and then sends them to the fact-checking project.
    • In Brazil, Aos Fatos has developed a Facebook Messenger bot that automatically answers readers' questions about certain claims and rumors. Tai Nalon said the technology will also be applied to Twitter in the run-up to this fall's election.
    • Finally, Full Fact's Mevan Babakar presented the British fact-checking charity's automated project: Live. The platform automatically pulls transcripts from the BBC and Parliament and identifies checkable claims, which are then checked against a database of existing fact checks and flagged for fact-checkers.
    • Aside from matching claims with existing fact checks, Babakar did a live demonstration of how the tool can also create automated fact checks. For example, if someone said unemployement is going down, the system would automatically pull data from the government and produce a fact check based on that.

    Supporting EU Fact-checkers

    • Alberto Rabbachin from the European Commission discussed how they were aiming to help fact-checkers in the region. He said there are four pillars of how the EU wants to increase the credibility of public information:
      • Transparency of the origin of information and the way it is produced, sponsored, disseminated and targeted
      • Diversity
      • Availability of information
      • Inclusive solutions between different groups
    • Fact-checkers are a key element in the media value chain, he said. Because of that, the EU published a communication in April that outlines several actions it hopes to take against misinformation (Disclosure: The IFCN was represented in the high-level group that helped create the communication):
      • A code of practice on disinformation for online platforms and the advertising industry
      • An independent European network of fact-checkers and a secure European online platform on disinformation
      • Higher quality and diversified information
      • A coordinated strategic communication policy
      • More secure networks.
    • To execute the communication, there will be two phases. In the first, stakeholders will get together and assess the activities of fact-checkers in different countries. The EU also wants to establish a portal where fact-checkers can share common working methods and cross-border partnerships.
    • Rabbachin the EU is also aiming to do several other things to help fact-checkers, including:
      • Provide virality monitoring tools for deciding what to fact check
      • A ticketing system for collaboration on data collection
      • A fake news and debunking database with translations
      • Collaborative authoring for fact checks
      • Content verification, semantic analysis, sentiment analysis for analysis of the context.
    • In phase two, the EU will support the creation of an independent network of fact-checkers to continuously monitor misinformation, partner with academics and provide tools for and access to data.
    • Finally, the EU has created a forum with the main social media platforms in order to more effectively address problems that fact-checkers identify, including:
      • Depriving fake news sites of their monetization
      • Making political advertising recognizable
      • Shutting down fake accounts
      • Making rules about bots

    Advanced Internet Research

    • Henk van Ness of Bellingcat and the Axel Springer Academy dished out some internet investigation tips and tricks in this fast-paced session. Learn more about the session here.
    • Van Ness said that, from just one photo, fact-checkers can find the following about a specific place in one hour:
      • The exact spot of the place
      • The owner of the place
      • Some of their hidden friends
      • Relevant events
    • You can really use Facebook to your advantage. Track down someone's profile from a phone number or email by adding it to a cheap cell phone, then create a shell Facebook account to get that friend suggestion.
    • You can also use Facebook graph tools to get profiles' unique ID, thereby finding their posts, which people have liked them and how they're related. Advanced search is also helpful because it lets you search by someone's affiliations, too.
    • Zooming in on Google Earth can help you verify whether something actually occurred in a certain location.
    • When searching for documents or agreements on Google Images, choose the option “black and white” for the color of the image, as that will narrow down the options massively, van Ness said.
    • To exclude results from Google search results, simply type "-" before the keywords you want to omit.
    • To find where a video was taken and when it was created, try extracting the metadata using Amnesty International's tool.
    • By analyzing details in a photo — the model of someone's smartphone, the style of their watch — and then Googling the, you can find the date range when a photo was taken.

    Misinformation on Messaging Apps

    • Poynter interviewed Carl Woog, policy communications lead at WhatsApp, and Chi Zhang, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California and a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, about misinformation on messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat.
    • Woog spoke about how WhatsApp's business app can help fact-checkers more efficiently debunk hoaxes that its readers are sending them by having a more official presence. La Silla Vacía in Colombia and Verificado 2018 in Mexico are doing this.
    • Zhang talked about WeChat as news ecosystem and how it's essentially focused very much on clickbait. At the same time, she said Chinese authorities very much want to manage misinformation, so it's tried to start its own initiative focused more on political censorship.
    • On WeChat, the groups can get really big — 70 percent of users belong to chat groups that are larger than 100 people. What fact-checkers have done is go into chat groups and find out what hoaxes are spreading.
    • Fact-checking on group chats presents an interesting problem — to what extent do fact-checkers interfere with big group chats? Woog said WhatsApp would not want to violate privacy and security, so intervention is tricky. Meanwhile, WeChat groups are typically large so it's less of an issue.
    • Woog recommended that fact-checkers get readers to add their institutional accounts to their contacts, that way they can receive fact checks. For WeChat, Zhang said fact-checkers should think about their audience — see who is occupying the space and who is doing the same work as you.

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