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The Week in Fact-Checking: Facebook’s baby steps

Alexios Mantzarlis reports from a closed-door meeting with Facebook officials and fact-checkers:

“Facebook and its third-party fact-checking partners met at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., this week after a rocky 14 months of working together. (Daniel Funke has written about the fact-checkers’ concerns.)

“My general takeaway is that Facebook is stepping up its commitment to this partnership by investing a lot more internal resources in the third-party fact-checking product. When it comes to transparency, there’s still a ways to go. Data shared in the meeting was under an NDA, but we were reassured that it would soon be shared publicly. Plus, Facebook seems set to address key limitations of the fact-checking tool that have been criticized publicly. We’ll see.

“Now, back to usual programming.”

Research you can use

  • Even the most popular fake news sites in France and Italy aren’t being read or shared as much as some might think, according to preliminary findings from a group of researchers with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. (You can also find it in the new fact-checking research database from Poynter.)
  • Denying facts and ignoring scientific evidence isn’t just the purview of climate change deniers. It also applies to people who believe feral cats should be protected, no matter how many billions of birds they kill.
  • New York TImes media columnist Jim Rutenberg examines “How Fake News Changed The New York Times – and didn’t,” published this week in the Wilson Quarterly.

(Lefteris Partsalis/InTime News via AP)

This is how we do it

  • How big was that crowd? Depending on who you believe, there were either 140,000 or 1.5 million people protesting in Athens this week over a potential compromise in the naming dispute between Greece and Macedonia. (See a new Poynter video that will help you estimate crowd size.)
  • Are the people at Climate Feedback fact-checkers or not? They’re not sure they are, but when you read their process for verifying information in buzzy science articles, you might agree the world could use more fact-checking operations like this.
  • WhatsApp might be a notorious purveyor of misleading information, but it’s also one of the tools fact-checkers in Brazil are using to help fight fake news leading up to this year’s elections.

This is bad

  • A Twitter user created a fake Donald Trump tweet and professed shock when the tweet went viral. He then tweeted a photo of a book he’s trying to sell, and then the name of the app he used to make the fake tweet. News outlets characterized the incident as an innocent joke gone awry. We think not.
  • Here’s what Newsweek says is the biggest fake news story of 2018 (so far) and it could soon be followed by the Amtrak crash conspiracy theories.
  • Another former Facebook executive has spoken out against the company’s current business practices, arguing that they directly enable electoral interference.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

This is fun

  • That “Lady Doritos” thing? It was “too good to fact-check” and apparently not true.
  • Matt and Maht, The New Yorker’s “ambassadors from the Russian Ministry of Sport and Culture,” speak out against the fake news floating around their country’s Olympic team.

A closer look

  • This is why Facebook’s plan to make users responsible for identifying fake news on the platform just won’t work.
  • You saw Matt Damon’s  Super Bowl ad about clean water. Now read the fact-check.
  • PolitiFact hired two reader representatives, one Republican and one Democrat, and then fired one of them.

Quick fact-checking links

FactCheck.org’s got some Groundhog Day fact checks — but they’re not about groundhogs.   //  A report from “Hope Not Hate” examines some bots with an anti-Muslim message.  //  Africa Check says Nigeria needs a larger dose of fact-checking.  //  Las Vegas editors ordered lie detector tests for story sources.  //  More fact-checking of “The Post.” (Can’t anyone just enjoy a movie anymore?)  //  Hearst television stations say they’ll increase political fact-checking for the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.  //  This license plate. No.  //  A fake advertisement for a fake news story on a fake web site.  //  The “fake news” billboard in Times Square was removed, and here’s why.  //  Bing search has a fake news problem too.  //  Turkish fact-checkers want you to know this video is not a military operation. It’s a video game.  //  Despite what this billboard says, 90 percent of babies with Down’s Syndrome are not aborted in Britain.  //  Windfalls for fact-checking operations: The London-based startup Factmata gets $1 million in seed money and the crowd-sourcing Our.News raises $100,000.

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