It’s probably fitting that the day after April Fools Day is International Fact-checking Day – for real… it’s a thing…. The Poynter Institute is having a Hoax-Off, the folks at Politifact are having a fact-check-a-thon, and you can even follow the fun over on twitter using #factcheckit. While fact-checking deservingly gets its own day, Brooke Borel from FiveThirtyEight makes the case as to why it alone Won’t Save Us From Fake News.
So what will, you might ask…? We are seeing many different approaches from around the world and here at home. First, take a look at how Irvine California teacher Scott Bedley has adapted his 5th grade curriculum and teaching style to make sure his students know which sources to trust — and which to reject, aka how to spot fake news. Given the current climate he says, “It’s more important than ever to teach kids how to read news critically.”
Chris Zappone, who is part of the Politicalbots Project housed at the University of Oxford highlights why the West may be blind to Russia’s propaganda today. He claims, “the challenge in Western democracies today will be to figure out how to reclaim social media as the place safe for democracy and unsafe for demagogues. This may be the Great Game of the years to come.”
Tim Berners-Lee may have been listening. The New Scientist reports on the World Wide Web founders’ open letter to mark the web’s 28th anniversay where he unveiled a plan to tackle data abuse and fake news. His 5-year strategy requested more algorithmic transparency and a call for regulating online political campaigning. To that end, German Legislators prompted by concerns over election manipulation have proposed a law that would require Facebook and other social media outlets to identify/remove fake news and hate speech or pay large penalties. Gianluca Mezzofiore over at Mashable is reporting on how Facebook in coordination with Poynter Institute approved independent fact-checkers are rolling out a new tool to flag fake news.
Taking it one step further, NPR and the NYTimes separately tell how the Czech Republic and the European Union have established special units to monitor and combat “weaponized disinformation” (aka fake news). In the US, Brad Allenby and Joel Garreau of the Weaponized Narrative Initiative claim that weaponized narrative is the new battlespace and that the U.S. is in the unaccustomed position of being seriously behind its adversaries.
So, what can one do in light of International Fact-Checking day? Lots and lots.
Check out our action icons above: call congress, run for office, join the ACLU, participate in an International Fact-Checking Day event, read the indivisible guide, and last but not least, “fact-check” whether you are registered to vote – and if not, why not take that next step?