The Week in Fact-Checking: How Facebook's algorithm change has affected fact-checkers

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

Was January the official NewsFeed-ageddon? Not exactly

Over the past month and a half, Alexios Mantzarlis and Daniel Funke tracked fact-checkers’ analytics to see how the recent Facebook algorithm change affected them. The topline finding is that, while there was a major dip in shares and interactions compared to 2017 — in part due to political cycles — they didn't detect any major fluctuations in fact-checkers’ engagement since the algorithm change was rolled out globally.

The findings aren’t definitive, seeing as it’s only been eight weeks since the algorithm change and fact-checkers are a niche group of pages. (Other pages are actually seeing a dip in their Facebook engagement.) But the report provides at least some data to contextualize a change that many predicted would be cataclysmic. Email factchecknet@poynter.org with your own observations for potential inclusion in a future story.

Refugees
Syrian refugees register their names at the Azraq refugee camp job centre for employment on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

This is how we do it

  • For her IFCN fellowship, Teyit.org’s Gülin Çavuş built the first iteration of what could become a database on misinformation about refugees and migrants. Here’s what she found.
  • Preparing for the Irish elections, volunteers built a database of social media campaign ads so that all voters can see the misinformation other voters are seeing.
  • After reporting from Poynter, BuzzFeed News and McClatchy, a Florida senator summoned Twitter to Capitol Hill to explain how hoaxes about the The Miami Herald spread after the Parkland shooting.

This is bad

  • A satirical article about CNN and a washing machine was flagged on Facebook after Snopes published a debunk. Then, controversy ensued.
  • Since gun buffs edited Wikipedia’s AR-15 page, people had a hard time finding information about gun control after the Florida school shooting. A Wikipedia spokesperson promised “more balanced facts over time.”
  • An Italian MP for the Five Star Movement tweeted a fake news story about 500,000 allegedly spoiled ballots. On the day of the election.

Elephant
 An elephant wanders in Tembe Elephant Park in the Northern KwaZulu Natal province in Jan 2007. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

This is fun

  • Bad Dumbo wasn’t a thing.
  • If you can’t figure out satire from real from fake, we’ve got a video for you.
  • A cease and desist email from Olive Garden on spreading rumors about the restaurant chain is, in fact, a hoax.

A closer look

  • A Facebook vice president has done something unusual: She sent a video message to advertisers assuring them that the company is addressing fake news.
  • It’s the 10-year anniversary of “Know Your Meme.” So what do we know now? “You learn everything terrible about human beings,” says an editor.
  • The New York Times has an in-depth look at how artificial intelligence tools are making it easy to manipulate people’s faces in online videos.

Facebook post
A Facebook posting released by the House Intelligence Committee, for a group called "Being Patriotic" is photographed in Washington, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

If you read one more thing

The Daily Beast has new details about the Russian Internet Research Agency’s efforts to kick up real-life protests and target specific people during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Quick fact-checking links

After fatal shootings, a Florida sheriff’s office launches a “fact-checking” site to debunk rumors.  //  The “fake news is everywhere” myth//  PolitiFact fact-checked three of the Oscar movies.  //  Fake news and other reasons people leave Facebook.  //  The Malaysian government, no stranger to political scandals, is pushing to pass legislation outlawing “fake news” before the August election.  //  Readers of a Philippine newspaper have defined fake news for you.  //  Tempted to share misinformation? This priest recommends Socrates’ “test of three.”  //  Faktiskt.se, a fact-checking coalition in Sweden, is gearing up to launch.  //  Mic produces “Unreliable Sources: A look at the worst media moments this week.”  //  Will NewsGuard be a “journalistic fix for fake news?” Some are doubtful.  //  This week, a fact-checker fact-checked a rumor about another fact-checking site. Inception.  //  The Dutch parliament is calling to disband an EU project that labels disinformation.  //  Ben Collins, an editor at The Daily Beast, is moving to NBC News to continue covering online misinformation and the platforms.  //  March 31 is the deadline to apply for the Spotlight Investigative Journalism Fellowship, a program designed to promote accountability reporting.

Until next week,

DanielJane, and Alexios

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