The Week in Fact-Checking: Sleuthing gone wrong

Over the past week, Twitter users outed white supremacists they thought they spotted in photos from the march in Charlottesville. Getting it wrong can have serious consequences, as The New York Times reported. Identifying people is not a simple task: Storyful, for instance, seeks eight to 10 sources before confirming anything. Here are some tips and an incredible list of digital forensic tools by Bellingcat. As always: When in doubt, don’t tweet.

Quote of the week
“Fake news is like dry water. Anybody here ever seen dry water? No. There’s no such thing. Water is wet. News is not fake.”  Jerry Jacob, KSPR-TV

Funny but fake
A “Funny or Die” image went viral from accounts that thought it was true. (Still, the makers of the iconic torches did intervene in the discussion over their appropriate usage.)


Fruits of labor
On the BBC’s World Service, Mevan Babakar of Full Fact says automated fact-checking will help with much of the “low-hanging fruit.”

‘How fake news killed my ancestor’
Business Insider reporter Áine Cain (and, full disclosure, a former intern for one of us) goes back three centuries to provide further evidence that fake news is nothing new.

‘Be Less Stupid’
The host of “Be Less Stupid” has created a series on “The Secrets of Fake News.”  It’s a good explanation of how people make money from fake news, a concept that people often don’t quite understand.

ABA Fact Check
The American Bar Association on Tuesday launched a service called Legal Fact Check that will “provide reliable, nonpartisan information to the public and news media addressing a wide range of legal topics.” Watch the video.

Mirza, the ‘wise older fact-checking dude’
Iranian fact-checking project Fact-Nameh, launched on International Fact-Checking Day by the same team that developed the Rouhani Meter, gets profiled by IJNet.

The Lexicon of Lies
Quartz breaks down Data and Society’s recent report on how to characterize and compartmentalize untruths and misinformation. Why is that important? “Properly labeling inaccurate information arms you with the power to read and judge independently,” says the author.

Fakery in the protest aftermath
The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal project lists the conspiracy theories and false claims that arose quickly after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va.

Underlying stereotypes
Has the meme of the “teenager from Veles” spreading fake news benefited and fueled racist stereotypes of Eastern Europe? (H/T Nieman Lab.)

Old trick, still working
Taking advantage of Turkish language characters, a site masquerading as The Guardian spread disinformation about Russia and the West. BuzzFeed reports that it wasn’t a solitary case.

Yeah, just don’t do this
A plea to professional journalists: Stop falling for fake news. Seriously, it’s like, your job. Read the sad story.

11 quick fact-checking links
(1) Doğruluk Payı founder Baybars Örsek discusses fake news on CNN Türk. (2) Most Australians say they’re concerned about fake news but only a tenth of them are willing to pay for real news online. (3) Oxford Internet Institute calls for papers on fake news;  Southwestern Law is accepting papers on fake news and weaponized defamation. (4) Fact-checkers Angie Holan and Glenn Kessler discuss Trump’s trust problem on CNN”s Reliable Sources. (5) The Washington Post asks readers to help find facts to check during their congresspersons’ summer recess.  (6) Here’s why Twitter polls aren’t scientific, just in case you thought they were.  (7) PolitiFact fact-checks the Bible.  (8) Carnegie Mellon University creates a fake news game.  (9) published an update on promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Independence Day speeches. (10) Reminder: IFCN fellowships, get yourselves one. (11) GQ’s head of fact-checking fact-checks whether he should allow his son to play American football.

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