The Week in Fact-Checking: Can you pass the polar bear test?

What’s the dumbest mistake you’ve made on social media? Brooke Borel once retweeted a photo of what she thought was a baby polar bear – and it turned out to be fake. But here’s the worst part: Borel is a science journalist, and at the time of the fateful RT she was busy trying to sell her new book, “The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking.” Read her cautionary tale and check out her “polar bear test.”

Quote of the week
“If share-baiting Facebook posts are the junk food of the political internet, then fact-check journalism is steamed spinach.” Emma Roller in the New York Times

The ‘backfire effect’ might be a little less fiery
Thomas Wood at Ohio State University and Ethan Porter at George Washington University conducted a study of 8,100 people to test whether factual corrections on 36 different issues compounded the respondents’ erroneous belief (the so-called “backfire effect”). Their conclusions: “By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their partisan and ideological commitments.”

Is an informed society good for business? Join us Friday at noon (ET) for #MetricShift Chat: The Metrics of Fact and Fiction.

Fact-checkers in Brazil team up
Three fact-checking initiatives in Brazil – Agência Pública’s Truco, Aos Fatos and Lupa – will be jointly fact-checking the final televised debate among Rio mayoral candidates. Twenty reporters from the three organizations will aim to check as many claims as possible in as little time as possible.

Politics and Facebook: Try this at home
Is your Facebook feed an echo chamber? (Spoiler alert: Yeah, it is.)  Here’s a way to test it, according to The Verge, which also explains what you can do about it.

Alexa, can you fact-check this?
The Duke Reporters’ Lab taught Amazon’s Alexa a new trick. When addressed with “Ask the fact-checkers,” the virtual assistant delivers fact checks.  “My Pundit,” a similar virtual assistant for Alexa, also was launched last week. And in other technology news, take a look at this list of apps recommended by a New York Times tech writer to help you through the election.

A new generation of fact-checkers
If you haven’t seen it, check out the University of Colorado’s student news corps, which provides political fact-checking – like this one invoking Cliven Bundy – for the Denver Post.  And here’s the new CavFacts, a project at the University of Virginia that “fact-checks things that are relevant to the student body,” says the co-founder.

Political fibs never looked so pretty
This catchy Univision info graphic highlights false and misleading claims by the U.S. presidential candidates in their final debate. hits the fact-checking lottery
Eugene Kiely at reports that in just 48 hours last week the organization’s story on “Donald Trump and the Iraq War,” received 1.1 million page views and Hillary Clinton’s responsible for it. She told debate viewers to research whether Trump had been an Iraq war supporter (which he denies). The first result in a Google search? The story that an concludes there’s “no evidence” to back up Trump’s claims of opposition to the war.

More weaponization of fact-checking
A new campaign ad for Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina escalates the use of fact-checking as a means of attack in the 2016 election – and in this case the truth takes a hit.

Thanks for ruining clowns for everyone, Internet
There is no “clown purge” planned across the world on Halloween night, says Snopes. And Allistair Reid of First Draft is so tired of reading one particular fake clown-attack story that he’s made an offer: “If this story is revealed to be true then name your price and I’ll pay it.”

Quick fact-checking links
(1) No, ISIS did not declare a war on cats (h/t Pagella Politica). (2) In Portland, baloney sandwiches, with a side of fact-checking. (3) This American Life talks about “post-fact” and the truth is – they don’t do a great job at it. (4) ICYMI: posts by hyperpartisan pages containing false information or no facts do well on Facebook, a BuzzFeed analysis found. (5) Little lies lead to big lies, says a new study.

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