One of the supposed golden rules of journalism goes like this: ‘If everybody’s mad at your coverage, you must be doing a good job."
Politicians are great amplifiers
The report's authors told us a final draft was ready on Jan. 15, with the outcome in Parliament assumed to be affirmative. The report was then published on Jan. 17.
- One of the most notorious fake news publishers is getting around Facebook’s fact-checking system simply by changing its website domain. Another flaw in the program is letting users share false posts that fact-checkers have already debunked. Facebook, which announced that it will start cracking down on misinforming Pages and Groups maintained by the same person, told us it’s working to fix those problems.
- Volunteers for India’s ruling party are using WhatsApp to peddle misinformation ahead of national elections this spring. Last week, the company announced that it was limiting the number of groups to which users can forward messages from 20 to five in an effort to slow the spread of misinformation. After the announcement, Recode posed the question: Could Facebook and Twitter do the same thing?
- YouTube is changing its algorithms to stop recommending conspiracy theory videos to users — a change that came after BuzzFeed News documented how the platform’s recommendation system is filled with junk. But it’s still unclear how the company will determine what constitutes a false video.
- American fact-checkers, especially on the local level, experienced heightened pushback from politicians whose claims were found to be false during the midterms. But some say that may be better than being ignored altogether, Susan writes on API’s website.
- The European Union called on platforms like Facebook and Google to do more to counter misinformation heading into elections this spring. Meanwhile, the (IFCN-assisted) FactCheckEU alliance is edging towards a public launch ahead of the May European Parliament elections. The project presented its scope in Brussels on Tuesday and announced the hire of a project coordinator on Thursday.
- Canada is spending $7 million on digital literacy and misinformation awareness campaigns ahead of this fall’s election. The move makes Canada the latest of at least 40 countries around the world that have taken action against misinformation.
…the future of news
- The impact of deepfakes on the future of misinformation is often overstated (*ahem* real video still works just fine). But this well-designed story from CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan does a good job of summarizing the technology — and how the U.S. government is racing to contain it.
- In our fact-checking predictions for 2019, we wrote that there will be more attention paid to startups that grade the credibility of websites. This even-handed story from Slate’s Will Oremus takes stock of some of those existing efforts, and how they could possibly misfire.
- Health misinformation, including antivaxxers, has found a home on platforms like YouTube. Are health-specific fact-checkers the answer to it? Climate Feedback launched a new project that bets on yes.
- Agência Lupa: ‘Dilma did not issue a decree to reduce government responsibility for dam collapses’ (Fact: 28.5K engagements // Fake: 1.4K engagements)
- PolitiFact: ‘No, 18 million illegal immigrants did not get a “government check” this month’ (Fact: 17.4K engagements // Fake: 4.4K engagements)
- CheckNews: “No, Red Scarves did not march with a banner of support to Benalla and Castaner” (Fact: 9.8K engagements // Fake: 3.7K engagements)
- AFP: ‘No, this species of parrot is not extinct’ (Fact: 485 engagements // Fake: 12.8K engagements)
- Boom Live: ‘No, World Bank Did Not Name Modi As The PM Who Borrowed The Most Since 1947’ (Fact: 112 engagements // Fake: 1.2K engagements)
- The Guardian spoke to five people whose lives were ruined by conspiracy theories.
- A newly published study from David Rand and Gordon Pennycook found that crowdsourcing judgments of news quality could help limit the spread of misinformation on social media.
- Libération’s CheckNews has published a truly comprehensive report about its partnership with Facebook: How it works, what it costs and why they do it.
- AFP is hiring in Malaysia and Singapore for its growing fact-checking operation.
- Amen to this tweet from the Reuters Institute’s Rasmus Kleis Nielsen: “Every time I hear fact-checkers like today @cjimenezcruz from @maldita_es at #EuTackleDisinfo I am powerfully reminded of how hard the work they do is – with little time, few resources, faced with uncertainty, polarization, and scale and pace – and how important it is.”
- Another contender for quote of the week: “Counting fake news exposure is like counting people in a fun house,” David Lazer told Wired about his new study.
- Alexandria Neason writes in the Columbia Journalism Review that journalists “should feel obliged to have their books fact-checked,” either by themselves or someone else.
- Writing in the Intercept, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting’s Trevor Aaronson suggested that a federal law known as the Information Quality Act could serve as a protection against Trump’s efforts to mislead the public.
- 4chan trolls coordinated to harass BuzzFeed employees who were laid off last week.
- Four Egyptian human rights activists have been charged with "spreading false news" and "offending the Egyptian state" after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Cairo.
Daniel, Susan and Alexios