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The Week in Fact-Checking: Does fake news ever die?

Since he died seven weeks ago, at least 20 of Paul Horner’s fake news websites have gone down, a Poynter analysis found. (The site information is available in this shared document). While the infamous misinformation creator’s death is no longer in question — despite initial media doubts and Twitter conspiracies — his legacy is.

Quote of the week
“Two things are clear. First and most importantly, there will continue to be creative new uses to these platforms in ways that we cannot predict. Countries and organizations that we view as our adversaries see these platforms as our Achilles’ heel. …The old attack vectors of fake news and buying ads will be replaced by new attack vectors.”  — Notre Dame professor TImothy Carone on CNBC

‘The face of fake news’
Congressional hearings on misinformation are bringing back bad memories for a Chicago woman. A photo of her appeared (without her permission) in a fake 2016 campaign ad that’s making the rounds again as committee members study social media’s sketchy role in the election.

What have fact-checkers learned after a year of Trump?
It’s been a year since Donald Trump became president of the United States. Fact-checkers from PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org reflect on what they’ve learned by covering his administration.

Sebastian Gorka isn’t a PolitiFact fan
The former White House counter terrorism adviser and Breitbart editor gave staff writer Josh Gillin’s comment request the cold shoulder.

Facebook’s fact-checking partnership isn’t foolproof
Mic reports a social media strategist made $20,000 from an article with a fake quote in the headline before Snopes flagged it and it was taken down. A Facebook spokesperson said it commonly takes more than three days to remove fake news stories.

Power to the (wrong) people
Africa’s first Nobel laureate for literature prefers paper over computers and doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook. But the 83-year-old has some wise words about “fake news,” technology and their weaponization against democracy.

What journalists get wrong about ‘fake news’
Writing for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Tamar Wilner says journalists must learnwhat “fake news” really is and then accept it as their own problem to fix.

New shooting, new round of misinformation
After Sunday’s shooting in a Texas church, a congressman fell for a recurrent hoax and things only got worse after that. …BuzzFeed and fact-checkers in Texas had their hands full trying to keep misinformation from spreading during the horrific church shootings last week.

Can ‘citizen investigators’ save us? 
A Massachusetts researcher suggests that teaching people about “formal argumentation” and then letting them loose to verify statements on social media could be a key to fighting misinformation. Read about his theory on The Conversation.

How fact-checking works
In advance of the election season, the Conversation AU is asking readers what facts should be checked and offers a one-minute fact-checking tutorial.

Fact-checking Kenya’s election and rerun
Poynter’s Daniel Funke spoke with Eric Mugendi of PesaCheck about the types of hoaxes fact-checkers saw during Kenya’s contested August election and subsequent rerun. Spoiler alert: It got worse as time went on.

Fishy claims
A fake narrative about Trump and fish food spread during his visit to Japan. But the full video told another story.

Facebook’s (really) unpopular test
A Facebook experiment in which it promoted comments containing the word “fake” to the top of news feeds was criticized by many users. As one freelance PR consultant put it: “My Facebook feed has become like some awful Orwellian doublethink experiment.”

The Twitter star that wasn’t
ICYMI, The Daily Beast has a must read on “Jenna Abrams.” (Now is a good moment to bookmark this Henk van Ess decalogue to bust fake tweeters.)


(GIF by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast)

14 quick fact-checking links
(1) An interview with former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett about his new book, “The Truth Matters.”  (2) Could shareholders be more effective than Congress in stopping fake news? (3) “Fake news” unfortunately is the word of the year. (4) Here are the seven reasons that misinformation goes viral.  (5) Newsweek blasts Lara Trump for spreading misinformation on Twitter and debunks an old, viral claim. (6A bunch of people had to debunk “the very bad day” rumor last week. (7A radio host and a producer explain how they debunk rumors on their show. (9) tree octopus teaches kids about misinformation on the Internet. (10) Austrian journalist and author Ingrid Brodnig collected examples of misinformation that emerged during the German election and categorized it following First Draft’s taxonomy. (11) Vox sat down with the author of a forthcoming book on misinformation. (12) A sober fact check from Africa Check. (13) Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano asked readers what they wanted to see more, and fact-checking was one of the answers. (14) Full Fact looks at sexual violence stats in the U.K.

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