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The Week in Fact-Checking: Let’s be scientists

Fact-checkers had a big year in 2016; will 2017 prove as eventful? Our guess is that fact-checking will retrench slightly in the U.S. but grow in other large democracies like Australia, Germany and India. Fact-checkers also might also learn a few things from scientists — like how to be more transparent.  Read all the 2017 predictions on and check out how the 2016 predictions fared.

Quote of the week
“It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of facts. It’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.” — U.S. President Barack Obama in his final public address

Tribunals to fight fake news?
Italy’s debate over “fake news” got very real last week, with a suggestion of panels to judge the accuracy of journalists’ work. But the political kerfuffle distracted from the underlying problem: “an established (media) culture that has never prioritized accuracy, verification or guarantees that what is published is reliable.”

Visualization of the week
PolitiFact’s Obameter has fact-checked 533 campaign promises made by President Obama.

Good Christians don’t spread fake news
Christians are being encouraged to stop spreading fake news through social media, sermons and in conversations. Religion is often a topic for fake news, says Christianity Today, “and Christians keep taking the bait. So. Many. Times.”  Read the “anti-duping” tips for churchgoers.

The fakery that will live forever: Celebrity death hoaxes
Web entrepreneurs have long known that a fake death story about a celebrity — Queen Elizabeth, Miley Cyrus, Adam Sandler, you name it — increases traffic and therefore ad revenue. Digiday explains why it’s so hard to control.

Trusting Google over Wikipedia has consequences
A researcher for Microsoft and NYU asks whether media literacy has backfired. In particular, should kids at school be encouraged to trust what they find through a Google search over what is available on a networked resource like Wikipedia?

Your next video binge: The Trump Archive
The Internet Archive has launched a collection of 500 hours (and growing) of Donald Trump footage, along with fact checks of about 500 Trump statements. The content is clippable, searchable and shareable on social media. And it’s free. See it here.


Fake news: This is war
Paul Bradshaw of Birmingham City University tells NiemanLab that the proliferation of hoaxes and inaccurate news are spurring the development of technological weapons to combat the problem. “Nothing stimulates technological development like war,” Bradshaw says.




Today’s fact-checking tips that shouldn’t even need to be said
(1) An article from any reputable media source should not start with the words: “We’re not sure of the origin of the photo, but it’s too great not to share.”  (2) If it sounds too insane to be true, then it’s probably not true. (3) If the publication is called USA Snich, seriously just ignore everything they publish.

The case against experts

Made by Evgeny Morozov on The Guardian. “When think tanks gladly accept funds from foreign governments; when energy firms fund dubious research on climate change; […] when the media regularly take marching orders from PR agencies and political spin doctors; when financial regulators and European commissioners leave their jobs to work on Wall Street — could anyone really blame the citizens for being sceptical of ‘experts’?”

Quick fact-checking links
(1) Industry leaders are feeling bullish about the effect of fake news on news media. (2) How to destroy the fake news business model.  (3) This media columnist wants you to stop saying “fake news” but, then again, someone had warned us two months ago the term would backfire. (4) How many people really die of starvation and thirst every day? Full Fact checks it. (5) When is a fact check not a fact check? When it is not something you can measure objectively. (6) Apply to be a Google fellow at Full Fact. Deadline is Feb. 1. (7) Myths and truths about the Zika-carrying Aedes Aegypti.


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