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The Week in Fact-Checking: Some alternate ideas on alternative facts

When President Trump’s Counselor Kellyanne Conway told Chuck Todd that the White House press secretary had presented “alternative facts,” she probably didn’t suspect her formulation would fill headlines around the world (and apparently help sales of “1984”). Beyond guffawing at unfortunate formulations, however, interviewers should come better prepared to hit back at falsehoods with facts.

Quote of the week
“By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. — Bloomberg View columnist Tyler Cowen 

GIF of the week
Peruvian investigative outlet Convoca looked at the status of promises made by the new president in his first 100 days in office.

What to do after the Women’s March? Fact-check! 
A Huffington Post columnist has some next steps for people who took part in the Women’s March on Washington last weekend, including this: “Fact-checking must be relentless, and the onus is on all of us.”

Fact-checking begins with skepticism
A Florida journalist explains how he’s teaching his kids to recognize truth by teaching them to be skeptical. And check out this ad designed to encourage skepticism and fight fakery.

If misinformation is a disease, develop vaccines
Researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Yale and George Mason published a study suggesting that actively flagging misinformation may help prevent its spread. Or, in their words, “pre-emptively warning people about politically motivated attempts to spread misinformation helps promote and protect (‘inoculate’) public attitudes about the scientific consensus.”

Just what we needed: more fakery
It appears we now need to be on alert for bogus fact-checkers of bogus information. The Guardian looks at such a situation in Sweden, and provides some insights on how to tell the difference between official fact-checkers and fakers. And Wired takes a look at fake “think tanks” that fuel fake news.

‘Fake news’ or a ‘social experiment’? 
The people behind an Illinois-based “satirical” website call their content a “middle finger of an art project.”  But stories on the site have provoked confusion among local residents.

Fact-checking resources: lexicon, good reads, database
Le Monde has put together a small dictionary of key terms for 2017. We want your suggestions for this reading list on truth and facts. And also by Le Monde: an upcoming database of 600 sites that publish misleading, satirical or fake news.

Tech giants vs. fake news peddlers
Google has banned 200 publishes from AdSense (ReCode), while Facebook is tweaking its Trending box. Among other things, the company told BuzzFeed, Trending will filter out “viral” stories that appear on only one outlet.

Fact-checking Hollywood
A Vatican expert says writers got a few things wrong in “The Young Pope” film. On the other hand, a Vox writer attending the Sundance film festival says movies could help us all “make sense of a post-truth world.”

Some fact-checking fun
Did you hear that the new White House administration has created 10 million fact-checking jobs? Or is it 10 billion? Read all about it.

Quick fact-checking links
(1) Quartz fact-checks President Trump’s official White House biography. (2) Here’s what an Irish fact-checker learned from last year’s elections. (3) Snapchat will crack down on misinformation in advance of its anticipated IPO. (4) Will a known hoaxer be allowed into the White House press corps?  (5) These college professors have developed a syllabus for “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data.”  (6) Job alert: Scottish co-op The Ferret is hiring a fact-checker. (7) A falsehood-riddled book about Donald Trump has been removed from the Smithsonian gift shop. (8) The IFCN fact-checker fellowships were under way this week, with Chequeado visiting Full Fact, and Lupa visiting El Objetivo. (9) Talking to fake news producers in the Philippines. (10) For teachers: a lesson plan to fight fake news.

 

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