The Week in Fact-Checking: New research on brains, fakery and truth

This week, researchers released significant studies that you really should read. Here are our short summaries; click on the names for more details:  People believe misinformation even when it comes from a source they don’t like (Brendan Nyhan and Yusaku Horiuchi) … The way people define and view fake news might not be what you think (Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Lucas Graves) … Two challenges in the battle against misinformation: people’s brains and their definitions of truth (Brian G. Southwell, Emily A. Thorson and Laura Sheble).

Quote of the week
“Fake news is like poison that is injected in small doses. It undermines the very fundamentals of a democratic society. So how do we stop it? … A more viable alternative seems to be independent fact-checking organisations to fight the problem. But maybe the most durable solution is to educate people how to pick up and understand what is fake.”  — Curaçao’s former Minister of Economic Affairs Alex David Rosaria, writing for the Curaçao Chronicle

Where should the ratings go?
Doğruluk Payi has some ideas. The Turkish fact-checking site took ratings off its homepage after finding that many readers skimmed them without reading the fact checks. Then their user engagement doubled.

Debunking or dissuading?
Germany’s Foreign Ministry set up a website addressing rumors about Germany for refugees looking to migrate to the country. The underlying policy goal is not hard to discern.

Check out this excellent Twittorial
Malachy Browne at the New York Times shows how his team verified and reported their “investigation mapping” of the Las Vegas shootings (Read Poynter’s writeup.)

More from the misinformation history book
We study history so we won’t repeat the sins of the past, but it does get depressing sometimes. Here you go: Fighting misinformation during the Cuban missile crises … The moon shot and “the birth of fake news” … The fake tale of London’s “Monster.”

Fake news hurts investors, too
Bloomberg looks at what happened to the iPhone 7, big pharma and Theranos when “a positive narrative turns out to be false” and vice versa.

Google News Lab, IFCN form partnership
A new project from The Poynter Institute and Google News Lab aims to “dramatically increase the searchable output of fact-checkers” and hold workshops for fact-checkers around the world. Read more about the program on Poynter.

CNN’s new truth campaign
The network’s “Facts First” campaign does not feature the voice of James Earl Jones but it does have an apple with a banana in a supporting role.

We may never know why…
…people share truly absurd stories like “pizzagate” and sharks swimming in a suburban yard. For one thing, laziness, says a Facebook user. “People just pass these stories on without even necessarily stopping to look at them,” he says in this New York Times article that examines the path from fiction to fact.

How to kill fake news in 6 steps
PEN America has an extensive report on how to battle misinformation and “fight for truth.” This blog post cuts to the chase: 6 steps to success.

Being smart about corrections
NPR One’s algorithm can tell which users heard a segment. So when a significant correction had to be made, NPR emailed all the listeners who had heard the original segment. (Also, Africa Check explains its policy for correcting tweets.)

Debunkers just want to have fun
Sometimes, being a debunker of viral memes means you get to ask an ornithologist about owl sex. Other times, it means ruining everyone’s Friday afternoon.

How bad is the future of fake news?
New technology will make fake news realer and realer, writes The Economist. Harvard’s Jonathan Zittrain tweets this isn’t as catastrophic as it sounds, and we also invite people not to panic. And ICYMI, will misinformation get better or worse?

Fact-checking Hollywood
The Arizona Republic examines the new firefighting movie, “Only the Brave,” and assesses truth and fiction.

12 quick fact-checking links
(1) The meaning of “fake news” is not what Donald Trump says it is. (2) Students around the world are learning about misinformation. (3) Somebody loves fake news. (4) The “pro-truth pledge” asks political candidates to abide by “12 behaviors that research shows correlate with truthfulness.”  (5) Fake news has a new enemy — Senegal. (6) An Italian science journalist was introduced as another person, corrected the host…and was asked never to come back. (7) DIY political fact-checking might be easier if Twitter’s “transparency center” works out. (8) Chequeado raised $11,000 in its crowdfunding campaign, and took advantage of the IFCN matching fund. (9) AfD voters in this survey were more likely to believe misinformation than other voters. (10) Busting fake news on the streets of Toronto. (11) What’s new from Facebook’s fact-checking efforts? Not muchHere’s why we need more public updates. (12) RMIT ABC Fact Check has a new host.

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