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Fact-checking in an Era of Fake News and Misinformation


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This is a webinar organised by the Nigerian Library Association, Delta State Chapter, in collaboration with Digital Citizens.

The aim of the webinar is to equip library and information professionals with necessary technologies and strategies needed to play key roles in the dissemination of correct information, and in the information literacy of citizens, in this era of fake news and misinformation.

Published in: Education

Fact-checking in an Era of Fake News and Misinformation

  1. 1. Tools and Strategies for Library and Information Professionals
  2. 2. Talk given by At a webinar Organised by the Nigerian Library Association, Delta State Chapter, in collaboration with Digital Citizens May 13, 2020
  3. 3. Webinar Overview In an era where information spreads amazingly fast, one of the resultant effects is people craving to play frontline role in the dissemination of information, in manners suggestive of some sort of gains in being the first, or among the first people to burst the news. Consequently, a lot of what is churned out is alarming, and it has become a norm overtime to mislead people and contradict stories with catchy headlines. While some of these information put out there are a result of shallow research and ignorance, some others are deliberate, with the author meaning to misinform and mislead people, and to spark off emotional responses. What does this mean for library and information professionals? Among other information commons, librarians play a key role in the dissemination of correct information, and in the information literacy of citizens. However, with the emergence of improved information and communication technologies, which enhance the information services of library and information institutions, comes also, faster and wider spread of negative information. This is a challenge for all information professionals and a challenge for the society at large. For this reason, it is imperative that library and information professionals upgrade their fact-checking skills, using appropriate technologies and strategies, if they have to occupy front line in the war against fake news and misinformation. Fake news and misinformation spread fast, and they have the potentiality of causing grave damage. Hence, this programme has been designed to help you stay informed correctly and stay on track, while helping others know how to differentiate between what is real and what is not, and not be victims and channels of confusion.
  4. 4. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan Newsweek, 25 August 1986, p. 27. “
  5. 5. A form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes, spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media Information that is not correct or accurate, with or without the intention to mislead or cause harm Fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines to increase readership. Vs
  6. 6. – CREATOR’S INTENTION Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country Mal-information: Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organisation or country Yellow Journalism / Yellow Press: Information that uses sensationalism and exaggerated titles to attract readers. It is usually not well-researched and often only tells one side of the story. Clickbaits: Information (usually text or image) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest
  7. 7. Propaganda: Information that is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Spoof News: Information that seems to be about a serious matter but is actually a joke. News Satire: A type of parody presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism, and called a satire because of its content.
  8. 8. – LOOK UP Black propaganda Grey propaganda White propaganda Computational propaganda Junk news Pseudo-news Hoax news News Parody Rumour FAKE NEWS FACT-CHECKING
  9. 9. Online Information Credibility Research
  10. 10. Fact Checkers At highly regarded news outlets Undergraduates Stanford University Historians PhD, with full-time faculty positions at universities 10 1025
  11. 11. TASK A TASK B AAP – The largest professional organization of pediatricians in the world ACPeds – A much smaller advocacy group that characterizes homosexuality as a harmful lifestyle choice A Silicon Valley entrepreneur financed the legal team, a fact not always mentioned in news reports about the lawsuit.)
  12. 12. FACT CHECKERSUNDERGRADUATESHISTORIANS Largely expressed the belief that both sites were reliable sources of information Easily identified the groups’ positions Overwhelmingly judged ACPeds’ site the more reliable one Read vertically Read vertically Read Laterally Often taken in by unreliable indicators such as a professional-looking name and logo, an array of scholarly references or a nonprofit URL, etc Bamboozled by the ruses that are part of the toolkit of digital deception today “Understood the web as a maze filled with trap doors and blind alleys,”…“where things are not always what they seem”
  13. 13. FACT CHECKERSUNDERGRADUATESHISTORIANS Even historians and students who did read laterally did not necessarily probe effectively: Showed what the researchers called click restraint, reviewing search results more carefully before proceeding They failed to use quotation marks when searching for contiguous expressions They clicked indiscriminately on links that ranked high in search results, not understanding how the order is influenced by search engine optimization
  14. 14. strategieSStrategies
  15. 15. • Unusual URLs, site names, or social media profiles that try to look like legitimate news or information sites, but aren't • Mission, purpose and contact info • Determine type (creator’s intention) • Considered an authority and credible? • What the web says about the source, against what they say about themselves • Authors – are they real and credible? • Establishment and accountability Investigate the source
  16. 16. Rely on established and accountable sources • Trade Up • Rather than relying on the source where you first saw the information, go out and fetch same information from a higher quality source •Float a trusted information source to the top of a search result page •If the information seems true, but a credible mainstream source hasn’t reported it, dig deeper
  17. 17. Check the publication date • Is the story relevant and up to date? • Does the date of publishing support the date/period of the event? Check for signs of an original source Check the supporting sources • Are there pointers to another source for the full story? • Is the source acknowledging another as the source? • Check out the supporting sources sited in the story, to determine if the given information actually supports the story
  18. 18. • Credible authors make less repeated spelling and grammar mistakes • Headline grammar error or typo in a red flag • All-caps words and a lot of exclamation marks are red flags Bad English Logo Clickbaits • Is the organisation’s logo used in the message, same as that on the official website? • Over-encourages you to click or share a hyperlinked text, image or video • Sparks off an extreme reaction in you – anger, fear, or smug If it: Suspect a misleading
  19. 19. If you have to read.. Be objective Get help • The story doesn’t have to agree with your opinion, but has the author done every other thing correctly? • Put personal biases in check. Remember you’re a professional Seek assistance or confirmation from colleagues or other experts • Read beyond the headline to understand the whole story • Don't just read down the page, read around the page
  20. 20. Cross- reference Use fact-checking sources before trusting or sharing Use search engines to look up the title of the article to see the Web’s judgement of its status
  21. 21. CANNIBAL KILLER SLAUGHTERED AND ATE 23 PIZZA DELIVERY MEN, 6 JEHOVAH WITNESSES, 2 POSTMEN IN PAST 7 YEARS Ivan Fedorovitch Yanukovych, 56, could be linked to a number of mysterious disappearances in the area believe officials. Yanukovych was interrogated by police after neighbors complained about him using a chainsaw late at night and reported the man being “covered in blood.” USA Nigeria Nigerian Taxi Driver Threatens To Spread Coronavirus RUNS FOR PRESIDENT IN KENYA, 2021 BARACK OBAMA WhatsApp Owner Brian Acton Says Online Those Who Share This Message Will Continue Enjoying WhatsApp Free Version
  22. 22. Sources Tools
  23. 23. Monitors online content in local languages, from Amharic to Hindi, Mandarin or Malaysian AFP Fact Check Exists to promote accuracy and honesty in public debate and the media in Africa Africa Check NEWS STORIES NEWS STORIES Independent news platform dedicated to transparency, democratic reform, government accountability and corporate responsibility Canada Fact Check NEWS STORIES A big database of domains and whois records, as well as an online investigation tool DomainBigData DOMAIN NAMES
  24. 24. Monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. U.S. POLITICS Online application that lets you take a deeper look at images – size, dimension, file type, colour components, resolution, date and time original image was created, date of creation (edited), artist, etc. IMAGES Educates and engages Canadians in critical thinking and evidence-based political decision-making, to hold politicians accountable for their words, and to encourage honesty in political debate FactsCan CANADIAN POLITICS Search returns similar images, the websites that contain these images, and other sizes of the picture you searched with. Has Android, iPhone and iPad apps Google Reverse Image Search IMAGES
  25. 25. A tool that visualizes the spread of articles online. It shows how unverified stories and fact-checking efforts on those stories spread online. Users are the judge here Hoaxy NEWS STORIES A web-based integrated toolset for the verification of newsworthy user- generated videos and their context spread via social media InVID VIDEOS Produces and disseminates peerless data and analysis on money in politics to inform and engage Americans, champion transparency, and expose disproportionate or undue influence on public policy U.S. POLITICS A website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others on its Truth-O-Meter Politifact U.S. POLITICS
  26. 26. Provides evidence-based and contextualized analysis, and documents their sources so readers are empowered to do independent research and make up their own minds Snopes NEWS STORIES Helps understand what people are talking about on Twitter. A search for a word or phrase automatically returns the most commonly used words and hashtags and the most frequently shared links twXplorer TWEETS Finds duplicate and modified copies of images with MatchEngine. Helps in image verification, matching, or reverse image- search solutions TinEye Reverse Image Search IMAGES V Urban Legends Online LEGENDS A computational knowledge engine or answer engine. Easily verifies statistics and raw facts. Can perform mathematical calculations on the spot, make comparisons, and answer direct questions
  27. 27. DOMAIN NAMES Whois Lookup — Domain Names Search, Registration and Availability A computational knowledge engine or answer engine. Easily verifies statistics and raw facts. Can perform mathematical calculations on the spot, make comparisons, and answer direct questions Wolfram|Alpha SPECIFIC ANSWERS
  28. 28. – web native skills – for speed and accuracy USEFUL TIPS d Understand different types of content If you build a fact-checking habit, overtime, you'll build a library of trusted and untrusted sources Always be mindful of information that arouse strong emotions, positive or negative Use care before sharing BUILD CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS Africa Check Tips
  29. 29. However, before you share or publish such stories, make sure the story passes all fact checks
  30. 30. Bibliography Caulfield, M. (2018, June 29). Online Verification Skills. Pullman, Washington State, U.S.A.: NewsWise. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from Cornell University Library. (2020, May 1). Fake News, Propaganda, and Bad information: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from Cornell University Library: Filucci, S. (2020, March 25). How to Help Kids Sort Fact from Fiction About the Coronavirus. Retrieved April 1, 2020, from Common Sense Media: the-coronavirus (2020). Top 8 Tools To Fact Check Your Research. Retrieved April 3, 2020, from tools-tips.html Karolina. (2017, January 27). Alternative Facts and Fake News – Verifiability in the Information Society. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from IFLA Library Policy and Advocacy Blog: information-society/
  31. 31. Spector, C. (2017, October 24). Stanford scholars observe 'experts' to see how they evaluate the credibility of information online. Retrieved April 1, 2020, from Stanford News: online-information/ UNESCO. (2019). Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training Vanderslott, S. (2020, March 20). How to spot coronavirus fake news – an expert guide. Retrieved April 9, 2020, from The Conversation: coronavirus-fake-news-an-expert-guide-133843 Wikipedia. (2020, May 2). Fake news. Retrieved May 3, 2020, from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: Wikipedia. (2020, March 5). News satire. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: Your Dictionary. (2020). Examples of Yellow Journalism. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from Your Dictionary: Link to demonstration: