Thursday, October 05, 2023

Fact Checkers Take Stock of Their Efforts: ‘It’s Not Getting Better


Our 10-point scale will help you rate the biggest misinformation purveyors

Ars Technica: “The world has been flooded with misinformation. Falsehoods and conspiracy theories bubble up on everything from the weather to vaccines to the shape of the Earth. Purveyors of this garbage may be motivated by attention, money, or simply the appeal of sticking it to the educated elite. For people who try to keep both feet planted in the real world, it’s enough to make you want to scream. 

Even if you spend 24 hours a day pushing back against the wrongness on the Internet, it seems impossible to make a dent in it. I’ve been pondering this, and I’ve decided that we need a way to target the worst sources of misinformation—a way to identify the people who are both the most wrong and the most dangerous. 

So, as a bit of a thought experiment, I started playing with a simplified scoring system for misinformation merchants. I’m calling it the 10-point Ladapo scale in honor of the surgeon general of Florida, for reasons I hope are obvious. Any person can be given a score of zero or one (fractions are discouraged) for each of the following questions; scores are then totaled to provide a composite picture of just how bad any source is. 

To help you understand how to use it, we’ll go through the questions and provide a sense of how each should be scored. We’ll then apply the Ladapo scale to a couple of real-world examples…”

Fact Checkers Take Stock of Their Efforts: ‘It’s Not Getting Better’

The New York Times [read free]: “After President Biden won the election nearly three years ago, three of every 10 Americans believed the false narrative that his victory resulted from fraud, a poll found. In the years since, fact checkers have debunked the claim in lengthy articles, corrections posted on viral content, videos and chat rooms. This summer, they received a verdict on their efforts in an updated poll from Monmouth University: Very little has changed. 

Three of every 10 Americans still believed the false narrative. With a wave of elections expected next year in dozens of countries, the global fact-checking community is taking stock of its efforts over a few intense years — and many don’t love what they see. The number of fact-checking operations at news organizations and elsewhere has stagnated, and perhaps even fallen, after a booming expansion in response to a rise in unsubstantiated claims about elections and the pandemic. 

The social networking companies that once trumpeted efforts to combat misinformation are showing signs of waning interest. And those who write about falsehoods around the world are facing worsening harassment and personal threats…”