The Week in Fact-Checking: Europe's 'knee-jerk' proposals to address 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

What research says about fact-checking

Over the past few years, academic work on fact-checking has blossomed. That’s why the International Fact-Checking Network today is launching a research database containing a curated list of studies that help further understanding of misinformation. Our aim is to arm practitioners with interesting research they can use to inform their work.

Explore the (growing) research database and let us know what you think.

This is how we do it

  • This week, fact-checkers are gathering in Italy for training sessions on verification tools.
  • The Boston Globe reported that Italian students are learning “to spot a fake by making one.”

Research you can use

  • In a sign of hope for the universe, three American researchers found that most people who saw a correction of a fake news story were willing to accept the correct version and dismiss the fake story.
  • Teyit.org’s “Insight Report” examines the thousands of messages they received from people asking for fact-checks of particular stories and rumors. “What do we doubt on the web?” is now available in English.
  • The annual Edelman Trust Barometer reveals, among other things, that well over half of respondents were unsure if what they’re seeing in the media is true or false.

Fake FB stories

This is bad

  • Fake stories about celebrities are appearing high up in Facebook searches — even if they’ve already been debunked by the platform’s fact-checking partners.
  • In an effort to prevent fake news ahead of this year’s elections, the Italian government has set up a portal where people can report fake news. Needless to say, journalists aren’t thrilled.
  • “The disinformation gloves have come off” in preparation for the Czech presidential election later this week. The fake-news sites generally are attacking the pro-Europe candidate and praising the candidate seen as pro-Russian.  

This is fun

  • Comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s father plays CNN commentator Wolf Blitzer in a fake ceremony for the infamous “fake news awards.”
  • The latest fact-checking of Hollywood: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and “The Alienist.”
  • The Bridge magazine in Michigan is planning a “Truth Tour” around the state, featuring a brightly painted van and a mascot called “The Truth Puppy.”

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he tours St. Peter's Square ahead of his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

A closer look

  • Pope Francis celebrated World Communications Day this week with a biblical lesson on “fake news” and created a prayer to promote “the journalism of peace.”
  • The United Kingdom is setting up a government unit to tackle fake news. It’s the latest attempt at regulating misinformation in Europe, which, as Mathew Ingram at Columbia Journalism Review writes, runs up against free speech protections.
  • Last week Facebook announced that it was surveying users on which publications they trust most. Turns out the survey is only two questions long and, when paired with another recent news feed change, could make misinformation worse.

If you read one more thing

Google has suspended a fact-check feature in searches after criticism from conservative media organizations that say they were unfairly singled out. A company spokesperson said they’re working to improve the quality of the feature before relaunching it.

Quick fact-checking links

Listen to this journalism.co.uk podcast with Full Fact about automated fact-checking tools for journalists.  //  A “negative relationship” with one or both of your parents may be a factor in whether you believe conspiracy theories.  //  Fake news is the subject of an ethics complaint against Republicans in Maine.  //  Hackers posted a bogus story on the website of a Lithuanian TV station.  //  Precept Media launched a beta of its crowdsourced fact-checking platform.  //  The Washington Post Fact Checker’s Pinocchio got an animated makeover.  //  Another misappropriation of the term “fake news” came with a threat of violence against CNN.  //  Mic bungled a story about eating alligator in Louisiana.  //  Two words: Fake apps.  //  A fake news story about the flu shot has gone viral.  //  It finally happened: Bitcoin and fake news collided.  //  Fact-checkers have an update on Donald Trump’s campaign promises, one year after he took office.  //  Reminder: The deadline for applying for the IFCN’s innovation fund is Feb. 5.  //  WhatsApp is reportedly testing a feature to prevent people from sharing spam.
 

Until next week,
JaneAlexios and Daniel

Looking for previous editions of this newsletter? You can find them here.

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