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The Week in Fact-Checking: Status report on platforms and misinformation

It was an eventful week for fact-checking and the big tech platforms. To recap:

  • On Thursday, Google announced it would be highlighting fact checks in search results. (Sloppy coverage ensued.)
  • The next day, Facebook launched a public service announcement in 14 countries asking readers to be wary of what it now calls “false news.” (Full Fact is providing the tips on U.K. News Feeds).
  • Adam Mosseri, who is responsible for News Feed at the social network, told the Financial Times that third-party fact-checking could get paid. Later in the week, he gave journalists gathered in Perugia conflicting messages about the impact of the company’s fake news fighting campaign.

Quote of the week
“Used as an underhand attack on the ‘deplorables’, post-truth is itself deplorable. But the term becomes useful if we read it as shorthand for life after the pursuit of truth – that is, a way of life in which there is apparently no way to separate fact from fiction.” — Andrew Calcutt, University of East London, in The Conversation 

Trump calling out ‘fake news’
President Trump has frequently used the term ‘fake news’ to discredit media outlets. A report by a Duke University journalism student found that of the 111 times he used the term (or retweeted it) since his election, 43 were aimed at coverage of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Fact-checking on WhatsApp
Fact-checkers go where falsehoods circulate. In many countries, that means Facebook. In others, including Brazil and India, it is the messaging app Whatsapp.

Research to watch
Do those post-debate discussions on cable news programs make any difference? Can fact-checking persuade people to change their minds about candidates? Here’s some fact-checking, journalism and political research to watch for this year.

The fake news fad: Let it fade
Writing for the School Library Journal, two libriarians argue that the focus on fake news is misguided, distracting and “doesn’t even qualify for Band-Aid status on the spectrum of media literacy challenges.” Lack of research skills is the real problem, they say.

‘The fake news story no one’s talking about’
What’s behind the lack of outrage over a reporter who’s accused of fabricating facts for major publications? Rolling Stone will tell you.

Take the fact-check challenge
An Idaho newspaper editor is encouraging everyone to fact-check, for one week, every interesting story they read online or in print, hear on television or radio or from friends. (If you do this and survive, let us know what you find.)

Will you be my fact-checker?
Glenn Kessler and Michelle Lee are asking readers in key districts up for re-election in 2018 to attend town halls and send any claims by their elected officials that look fishy.

Hey, cucumbers need fact-checking, too
The Daily Texan fact-checks the claims about the health benefits of cucumbers as noted in a song by reggae rapper Macka B. If you would like to check his claims about avocados and watercress, go for it.


11 quick fact-checking links 
(1) You can help win its 10th Webby. (2) The Ferret published its first fact check, on Scotland and the queue to join the EU. (3) Friends with a fact-checker? Full Fact has a book list for potential gifts. (4) The Fact-Checking Day guides for debunking urban legends and fact-checking political claims are now available in Portuguese. (5) Lupa launched its educational program.(6) Here’s another academic survey you may want to participate in, from Colorado State University on the perception of fake news. (7) Enter your ideas for “TruthBuzz: The Viral Fact-Checking Contest.” (8) See the keynote speaker signed on for Global Fact 4. (9) Snopes is now embeddable. (10) The University of Michigan is holding a free “Fake News, Facts and Alternative Facts Teach-Out” starting April 21. (11) This site gives you fake news and malware. Yay.

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