The Week in Fact-Checking: New year, same old fake news

An analysis by BuzzFeed News shows that the 50 most viral fake stories of 2017 had more engagement than 2016’s top 50 list — despite Facebook’s partnership with fact-checkers. Disconcertingly, corresponding fact checks had only 0.5 percent of the Facebook engagement generated by hoaxes. But, some good news, maybe: This study found that falsified stories constitute a relatively small portion of news consumers’ media diet, which still consists mostly of hard news.

Quote of the week
“Journalism is not a perfect exercise. It’s a human endeavor, so we will make mistakes. But if you’re not willing to be honest about it and transparent about it, then I think the people who are trying to brand real journalism as fake news are given a leg up, because they can say, see, they made this mistake and they won’t say anything about it.” — Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News on PBS Newshour.

Fact-checking highlights of the year
The IFCN recognized the 10 most noteworthy people and stories in fact-checking of the past year. Journalists from organizations including Africa Check, PolitiFact, La Silla Vacía and First Draft rounded out the list. And in case you missed it, here’s what to expect from fact-checking in 2018.

Gaming Google’s ad structure
Climate change deniers are taking advantage of Google’s advertising business to surface false or misleading claims high up in search results, The New York Times reported. And since users’ ads are tailored based on their search history, only some groups of people will see them.

Live fact-checking for the State of the Union?
That’s the goal of the Duke Reporters’ Lab Tech & Check Cooperative, which Nieman Lab reported is working on an automated fact-checking app.

News literacy and the law
During the 2018 legislative season, state lawmakers around the U.S. are proposing bills mandating courses that would help students learn how to do their own online fact-checking and choose reliable news sources.

The most ‘sickening’ lies of 2017
Fact-less stories about the four U.S. troops killed in Niger in October topped Vice’s list of “The 10 most toxic pieces of fake news in 2017.” Other nominees included stories about Melania Trump’s “body double” and global warming. Here’s the full list.

If ‘fake news’ is a drug, what’s the cure? 
Author and futurist Amy Webb tells Mother Jones there’s a “strong case” to be made for the addictive powers of misinformation and propaganda. “When you’re seeing your angers and fears and anxieties being validated externally, you get a shot of dopamine,” she says.

Fact-checking ‘The Crown’
While some people binge-watch the popular Netflix series “The Crown,” Mike Rosenwald of The Washington Post is binge-checking the historical facts. Read his assessment in the Post’s history blog, Retropolis.

Stop us if you’ve heard this
It’s the “end of facts.” You should “give up on facts.” The “alternative facts” and the facts that “don’t change our minds.” In a long read that’s worth your time, Slate columnist Daniel Engber tells us not to believe any of those statements and offers some compelling reasons.

Quick fact-checking links

(1) Chequeado got busy in 2017. (2) Spotify is now including fact checks in its advertising. (3) Heads up: The deadline for expressing interest in Global Fact 5 is now Feb. 14(4) Media Matters for America named Mark Zuckerberg 2017’s Misinformer of the Year. (5) Full Fact in the United Kingdom is hiring an editor, fact-checkers and a fundraising manager. (6) Heed these lessons in Kenyan fact-checking. (7) The Toronto Star analyzes its year of fact-checking all of Trump’s statements, a feat performed by reporter Daniel Dale. 8) Here’s why fact-checkers should consider using GIFs to distribute fact checks. (9) Meet the behind-the-scenes fact-checkers at The New York Times. (10) Yale holds a hackathon on misinfo. (11) Stay tuned for the Pope’s message on fake news. (12) Here’s the BBC’s video tutorial on spotting hoaxes.


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