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The Week in Fact-Checking: Imagine a world without it

What would the world look like if no one fact-checked? Swedish hoax-busters Viralgranskaren looked at how a fake story spreads in two alternate realities, one where readers fact-check and one where they don’t.

Quote of the week
“You can’t blame all this on the big, bad media. The news media reflects society and its citizens don’t want to complicate their worldviews. They don’t want facts, they want slogans.” — Media ethicist Stephen Ward

LeMonde is building a BS detector
France’s presidential campaign — and the related coverage — has clear echoes of its U.S. counterpart. Regardless of how the French election unfolds, however, the projects its fact-checkers are working on hint at the future of the field worldwide.

Meet the fake news writers
A high profile tweet to your fake news site can bring $10,000 in extra revenue, The Washington Post reports. So why not get into the game? Paul Horner, the “38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire,” spoke to Caitlin Dewey about how dumb people are. (Dewey, one of the best journalists covering this issue, sadly is leaving the beat.) And a spokesperson of sorts for the fake news industry told Craig Silverman how concerned hoaxers are about Facebook’s plans.

New report looks at fact-checking in Europe
If fake news is booming, at least fact-checking is growing. A new report from Federica Cherubini and Lucas Graves for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is a deep dive in the diverse and fragile universe of European fact-checking. (The number of fact-checkers worldwide is also growing).

The dangers of crying wolf with ‘post-truth’wolf
Sometimes a lie is just a lie. The ratings that fact-checking sites use are far from scientific — but they do force journalists to abide by a method that recognizes truth ought to be evaluated on a spectrum. A method should also apply to calling out “post-truth;” otherwise, our capacity to call out misleading political claims will be further hindered.

U.S. fake news isn’t just a U.S. problem
A fake story about the American presidential election is making the rounds in China, and it isn’t simply an annoyance. It illustrates the dangerous combination of propaganda and authoritarianism, says ethnographer Christina Xu in this Fast Company article.

Fake news in Brazil
The “Car Wash” scandal that rocked Brazilian politics was also a boon for fake news writers, BuzzFeed News reports. Not unlike during the final months of the U.S. election, the top fake news stories did better than the top real news stories.

Fact-checking Hollywood
The Netflix drama “The Crown” is many things but it is not a completely accurate history lesson. People Magazine checks some of the facts the writers got wrong and right about Queen Elizabeth’s life. (And, spoiler alert.)

Some fact-checking fun
Comedy Central held a funeral for facts this week, led by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah and guests. “I always loved facts,” one comedian said. “As a kid, I would spend all day on the toilet reading fun ones.” Watch it. 

10 quick fact-checking links
(1) PCWorld shows you how to test partisanship in your Facebook feed. (2) These are the most fun conspiracy theories on earth, says Bustle. (3) Scholars in Texas find 400 new errors in a history textbook that had been revised because of previous errors. (4) Amazon may soon face its own fake news problem. (5) In case you were wondering how we got to this Facebook fake-geddon, a Twitter timeline; and, The New York Times looked at how fake news actually spreads.  (6) A useful taxonomy of misinformation by First Draft’s Claire Wardle. (7) Fighting fake news isn’t that hard, at least the worst stuffor is it? (8) Artificial intelligence won’t beat fake news, but could a Professor do the trick? What about a crowdsourced list of suggestions? (9) A French philosopher blamespost-truth on fact-checkers. Go figure. (10) If you are in Rome next Tuesday, go to this fake news conference.

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