April 24, 2015

Emergent, the real-time rumor tracker founded by Poynter adjunct faculty member Craig Silverman, has gone dormant since its creator joined BuzzFeed.

In an interview with Poynter, Silverman said he ceased updating Emergent after he began his new job as editor of BuzzFeed Canada. The site, which sprung from Silverman’s fellowship with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, has been at a standstill for about two weeks, Silverman said.

In his new role, Silverman will oversee the six-person team at BuzzFeed Canada, which will include a political editor and a social news editor, among other positions. Meanwhile, the future of Emergent remains uncertain. The viral news outlet is not acquiring the rumor-tracker, partially because the technology it’s built upon doesn’t mesh well with that of BuzzFeed’s, Silverman said.

That doesn’t mean the site is completely kaput, however. Silverman is willing to entertain acquisition offers and says the data gathered by Emergent is available at no charge to anyone who wants it. He plans to leave the site up for the immediate future before making a final determination of its fate.

Even though he won’t be taking his rumor-busting site to BuzzFeed, Silverman still aims to bring his brand of skepticism to the publication. He will continue to debunk myths but will do so with a larger platform and new colleagues who have themselves tracked the veracity of viral stories. A model for his future work can be found in a story, published today, in which Silverman and two of his colleagues examine a raft of fraudulent stories seeded by a suspect news agency.

“One of the things I know for sure is there are a lot of people over at BuzzFeed who are checking and verifying things,” Silverman said.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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