The Week in Fact-Checking: Conspiracy theories take off after the Florida school shooting 

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

Florida shooting misinformation

Last week’s shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead and several injured spawned the usual hoaxes that follow American tragedies: fake images of the shooter, posts claiming he was a member of Antifa, false identifications and phony screenshots of his Instagram account. Then there were those that aren’t so typical.

Imposter tweets targeted journalists attempting to cover the shooting, leading to a cascade of online harassment. Twitter at first denied that was against their policies, then said the rules should be revised. Conspiracy theories about students organizing gun control demonstrations took off, trending on YouTube and populating search results (at least for a while). There was an incorrect story that led to careless sharing by professionals and many corrections. Another story led to a Florida Senate aide being fired.

Some students took the conspiracies in stride, but as Snopes’ Bethania Palma put it, “We’re living in a dystopian hellhole of false information.” So what’s the solution?

State of the Nation
South Africa's new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ruvan Boshoff)

This is how we do it

This is bad

Brazil protest
Demonstrators protest against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

A closer look

  • The New York Times has a deep dive into Brazil’s anti-fake news efforts.

  • Where are the Japanese fact-checkers?

  • Discuss: “Media literacy programs in schools are so outdated, they’re backwards.

Coming up

Lonzo Ball
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball (2) signals to a teammate during an offensive possession against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

This is fun

  • ESPN “fact-checks” Lonzo Ball’s rap lyrics.

  • Other sites have fake news. SoundCloud has fake music.

  • A fact-checking project in Nevada is aiming to fill gaps in local political coverage.

If you read one more thing

Quick fact-checking links

The Pope was fact-checked, and it did not turn out well for him.  //  The Secret Service is fact-checking now?  //  Will the Bad News video game help kids spot fake news?  //  Buyers of political ads on Facebook will be verified with postcards this year.  //  The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism has launched two fact-checking websites, Udeme and Dubawa.  //  The American Bar Association fact-checks politicians’ blathering about treason. // Social media platforms need to admit they are trafficking in “automatic weapons,” says John Battelle.  //  Italy is trying to combat Russian influence on its upcoming election.  //  By far, Facebook and Instagram were the go-to sites for Russian interference in the 2016 election, says the Justice Department.  //  Broadcast personality Afia Schwarzenegger will host the “Political Police” comedy fact-checking show on TV Africa.  //  A good thread on what conspiracy theories offer to believers.  //  This game teaches how people spread online misinformation.  //  Here’s a fact check of what a Facebook executive said about Russian disinformation.  //  What we still don’t know about fake news and its growth.  //  Twitter fact-checks a “Hulk Hogan” interview.

Until next week,

DanielJane, and Alexios

Comments

 
Email IconGroup 3Facebook IconLinkedIn IconsearchGroupTwitter IconGroup 2YouTube Icon