The Week in Fact-Checking: WeChat, Van Morrison and green moons

The problem with WeChat

The influence of misinformation among Chinese-speaking immigrants in the United States offers important clues for how fake news is constructed and distributed, according to a new paper published by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

Chi Zhang found that, while many popular web hoaxes in the U.S. deal with jobs, the economy and healthcare, many hoaxes on WeChat — a popular messaging app among Chinese immigrants — deal with issues like affirmative action or illegal immigration. That disparity, as well as the low barrier to entry for new publishers, allows misinformation to go unchecked.

Research you can use

  • In a paper for the Knight Foundation, Syracuse University researcher Emily Thorson says fact-checking is unlikely to be effective unless fact-checkers know what their audiences do and don’t understand.
  • First Amendment enthusiasts typically believe the answer to false speech is more speech and that truth will triumph. Not necessarily so, says a Duke University professor.
  • New York University hoovers up current research on social media misinformation and identifies the “gaps” that still need to be studied.

This is how we do it

  • New fact-checking collaborations launch in Sweden and in Africa, and a “fact-checking center” opens in Taiwan.
  • Here’s a short video tutorial from Poynter with tips for how to run a breaking news verification project.
  • Boom and SMHoaxslayer talk with India’s NDTV about fighting misinformation in a country where fake news can “spread like wildfire.”

This is bad

  • Sellers are using Facebook to get fake reviews on Amazon.
  • This student loan expert has been cited in publications like The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. There’s just one problem: He doesn’t exist.
  • In El Pais: Meet the “everyday Spanish people” whose lives have been ruined by the spread of misinformation.

This is fun

  • Sadly, there is no green moon, there was no green moon, and there will never be a green moon.
  • This is how Van Morrison fights fake news.
  • Comedy Central’s Jordan Klepper will be interviewed by The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart today at a live event in D.C.

A closer look

  • People in Kenya are learning about fake news in their country — from the U.S. State Department.
  • Facebook’s project to fight nefarious political advertising went into effect this week. But Nieman Lab asks if Facebook can really “beat back fake news” in Ireland; and The Conversation has some advice for the platform in Canada.
  • At least two social platforms think they’ve got this fake news thing figured out. Read Wired’s interview with Flipboard, and the Axios interview withLinkedIn. On the other hand, Snapchat

Coming up

If you read one more thing

African journalists are using drones and satellites to fight misinformation in remote regions. But the government hasn’t made it easy.

12 quick fact-checking links

  1. We were not fans of this headline on a New York Times story about Facebook’s Campbell Brown.
  2. Fake “models” on Instagram are not as harmless as you think.
  3. Here’s a short, new video on how anyone can fact-check news in Malaysia.
  4. NewsGuard will have a “fake news hotline.”
  5. Fact-checkers in Brazil are bracing for an onslaught of fake news going into this fall’s election.
  6. Here are our quick thoughts on today’s European Commission report on tackling disinformation.
  7. Here’s everything else you need to know about misinformation in the EU this week.
  8. Who do most Americans want to fight fake news? Tech companies – not the government.
  9. A Florida politician’s campaign got some attack ads pulled after citing PolitiFact in a cease and desist letter.
  10. Here are 16 ways to fact-check hoaxes on WhatsApp, from the IFCN’sInternational Fact-Checking Day tip sheets.
  11. BuzzFeed News rounded up the rumors about the Toronto van attack suspect.
  12. PBS begins a four-part series on “Facebook’s battle against misinformation.”
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