The Week in Fact-Checking: In Italy, it’s the season for fake news

Fake news is making the news in Italy. Preparing for election season and an expected barrage of misinformation, the governing party is demanding that Facebook and other social platforms help in the fight for facts — but not everyone trusts the messenger. Plus, a look at which advertisers help pay for fake news sites.

Quote of the week
“I prefer the term ‘media reliance’ [instead of trust]. The public has a right to rely on journalists to provide accurate reports. Journalism must earn the public’s reliance every day. The judgment that media sources are worthy of our reliance, is tentative, fallible, and dependent on media performance over time.”  — Stephen J.A. Ward in MediaShift

Fake data: The equally evil twin of fake news
Fake data and “fake news” are similar and dangerous threats, says a European Central Bank official. Benoit Coeure says misleading economic data, just like conspiracy theories and disinformation, can fuel “manias and panics” among the public.

Trends in machine learning
Chequeado’s Mariano Falcon reports back on a big natural language processing conference and what it means for automated fact-checking.

Here’s how to do a ‘media swap’
A California brother and sister “swapped” their news feeds so each could better understand the other’s politics. Their advice: If you’re going to do a news swap, remember to involve the fact-checkers.

Fake sources, true videos and the future of proof?
Writing for Nieman Lab, Christine Schmidt points out that the recent Project Veritas-Washington Post showdown relied heavily on video to provide proof of some of the story’s details. But what happens when those videos are manipulated? Future worries aside, reality scored a win, writes Margaret Sullivan.

Speaking of videos…
Yesterday Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos from a British far-right leader, setting off a media frenzy. Poynter’s Daniel Funke investigated where exactly those videos came from, and found one was false while the other two were misleading.

Housing a U.S. rapper or a deposed dictator?
A South African newspaper used a picture of Dr. Dre’s L.A. home to accompany an article about a depressed Robert Mugabe “cooped up” in his Harare mansion.

Here’s some fact-checking fun
The Beaverton, Canada’s version of the Onion, talked about its career in “fake news” and their funniest satire of the year. The Onion didn’t let any “fact-checking inconsistencies” get in the way of publishing a story about accused pedophile and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Must-read fact-checking links
(1) Britain’s citizenship test needs a rigorous fact check, writes Federica Cocco. (2) Michigan Truth Squad is raising money to fact-check 2018 elections. (3) What’s fake news? Watch Rappler’s explanatory video. (4) Commentary by CNN’s Brian Stelter: This is how President Trump “shades the truth.” (5) The Ferret’s fact-checkers are on a road trip to take readers behind the scenes. (6) The University of Kansas received a grantto work with Russian researchers on creating best verification practices for students and journalists. (7A top Texas official shared an old fake story on Facebook from a fake publication about a fake ruling from a fake court. (8) Snapchat snaps at Facebook for its misinformation problem. (9) This man is launching himself into the sky this week inside a homemade rocket to try and prove the Earth is flat. (10) Whatev. (11) A new project at ASU will build a curriculum to teach how to combat misinformation on the science and health beat. (12) Samantha Cristoforetti: astronaut, amateur fact-checker. (13) More details about the three-year Oxford Martin Programme on Misinformation, Science and Media. (14) Did Italy not make it to the World Cup because too many foreigners play in the Serie A? Pagella Politica investigated the claims. (15) Lessons from five years at Africa Check. (16) Truth is so 2015.


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