The Week In Fact-Checking: Platforms get grilled, a 'fake news nurse' and our disinformation disorder

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.

'You failed:' Congress grills platforms

Google, Facebook and Twitter were questioned this week on Capitol Hill about their roles in the proliferation of fake news and disinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Slate asks if the entities "are too big" to fix their own problems; Recode had the rundown of what happened; and CNET has a collection of critical quotes from U.S. senators at Wednesday's hearing.

Quote of the week

"You could be interacting with a bunch of people online, believing you’re talking to Bernie Sanders or Trump supporters, but really, you’re talking to three guys outside of St. Petersburg. It really oversimplifies it to just say this is a fake news problem. We talk about it in terms of ‘digital paramilitaries.'”  — Jigsaw CEO Jared Cohen in Fast Company

Our disinformation disorder

A new report from First Draft News offers more detail about the types of misinformation, adding the category of "mal-information." The report also lists 35 steps to address the problem, including eight aimed specifically at media organizations.

Misinformation Venn diagram

My teacher, my fact-checker

More U.S. students than ever before are presenting misinformation during class discussions, according to teachers surveyed for a new UCLA study. Most of the students' misinformation comes from social media and talk radio, teachers said.

My nurse, my fact-checker

A London-based health charity has hired what some are calling a "fake news nurse" to respond to quack cancer cures that have been circulating among cancer patients. The wrong website, says the organization's chief medical officer, "can leave people pinning their hopes on a dangerous bogus cure."

Misinformation and messaging

Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger are the next big problem in fake news and misinformation, says Axios' Sara Fischer. And Columbia Journalism Review examines the WeChat app, calling it "largely overlooked as a culprit in spreading misinformation" during the 2016 U.S. elections. 

Automation check-in

Full Fact previews a couple of its automated fact-checking and fact-gathering tools on the BBC. "It's kind of like Shazam, for facts," says its tech lead Mevan Babakar. Also, Media Shift covers the plans for the Tech & Check Cooperative.

Fact-checking automation

Satire in the age of fake news

Asked about the "Not the News" tag that accompanies his work, The New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz says it was his idea. "In my dream, everybody would have better reading comprehension and we wouldn't have to do this," he told Poynter. "But it's also a problem with our current reality."

Who falls for rumors? You fall for rumors!

That's the basic finding of a study on rumors in conflict zones, which found attributes like age and gender were poor indicators of receptivity. Instead, how the information related to people's worldview mattered most, suggesting that anyone can fall for rumors. But when you do, you might not even know it.

Oprah

Facebook and the fact-checkers: a deeper look

Bloomberg's Sarah Frier has the most complete overview of the situation with Facebook and the third-party fact-checkers. The social network "plans to extend its contracts beyond the first year," according to the report.

Sherpas of journalism

What does the public need to help them navigate a falsehood-filled society? Fact-checkers, yes, but "sherpas" who also can combat odd ideologies and don't simply present their work as "facts scrubbed clean," says a media ethicist.

Facts gone missing

It's one thing to spread alternative facts — a whole other one to remove facts from the public sphere altogether. That's what seems to have happened to several indicators usually included in the FBI's annual Crime in the United States report.

The un-funny thing about sharing funny fake news

People can be more likely to value humor over accuracy when deciding what to share on social media. A Harvard professor wonders if there's a "different kind of intervention" needed to keep those "funny" false stories from spreading.

At least we're over fake maps

Our geographical surroundings were a lot less accurately portrayed in the past. Pace yourself flat-earthers, no one really gets away with totally making up features of our Earth. (H/T The Phantom Atlas.)

Fake Australian map

10 quick fact-checking links

(1) PRI's The World interviews Laura Boldrini, president of the Chamber of Deputies in the Italian Parliament, about her "fake news hunters" project. (2) What does Kenya need? Not more fact-checking tips. (3) Meet Nechama Brodie, the "fact-checker's fact-checker." (4) Hate and viral misinformation go hand-in-hand, and that's why "monsters" have infiltrated social media. (5) Jobs! Two post-doc openings to study misinformation at the Oxford Internet Institute. (6Misinformation about Catalonia's independence continues to be generated. (7Happy 5th birthday to Africa Check. (8) From Nieman Lab: a collaborative project fact-checking Japan's snap election. (9) Google News Lab is partnering with the IFCN. (10) Research suggests far-right German voters were more likely to believe fake news during the election. 

Until next week,
AlexiosJane and Daniel

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