Truth-checkers need a seat on the desk in discussions about regulation
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While the approval of a new regulation in Australia resulted in Facebook banning local media from the news feed, the government in Mexico wants to be the one to explain what Facebook (and other technology platforms) can ban from the internet. Discussions about freedom of speech, social media platforms, and government power are happening in different parts of the world, showing the need to bring fact checkers together for a moment of brainstorming.
Last night’s IFCN talks brought together Peter Bodkin from AAP FactCheck in Australia and Tania L. Montalvo from Animal Político in Mexico. They discussed the ramifications of recent decisions made by platforms and governments in their counties, arguing that fact checkers – in Bodkin’s words – should be. “As loud as possible” in discussions about regulations.
Montalvo said the Mexican government had expressed its willingness to work with civil society groups on proposed misinformation regulations, but added that their organization had not yet been contacted. Past experience has also made them skeptical of the government’s willingness to work with fact-checkers.
“With other initiatives, it was a joke even though we had an open parliament,” she said. “They are listening to us, but they have not adopted what we recommended.”
Both Bodkin and Montalvo said fact checkers can do more to stand up for themselves both with the government and the public. They pointed out that fact-checkers were accused of censorship as an example of the division between the fact-checker community and the public.
“Education is a big part of being a fact checker and helping people understand the positive roles they can play,” said Bodkin.
“I think sometimes we are very close to ourselves as a community and we don’t get involved in other communities, in poorer communities,” said Montalvo. “When I say something is wrong because I use this method and have checked all the sources, I have to make it clear to the reader so that they can follow exactly the same path and draw the same conclusion. ”
Cris Tardáguila, who moderated the session, added examples from her home country, Brazil, where she said the government had tried to regulate fact checking without having a clear idea of what fact checkers are doing.
Ellen Tordesillas, a fact-checker for Vera Files in the Philippines, drew attention to her country’s new anti-terror law. She said that “Terror” is a broad concept and that she fears that this rule could be used against fact-checkers.
The Europeans, on the other hand, seem to be one step ahead. Some fact-checkers in this region have actively advised the European Commission on combating online lies.
Carlos Hernández-Echevarría, Public Policy Manager at the Spanish subsidiary Maldita.es, told me it was important that fact-checkers get involved in groups like the Commission Ultimately, avoid harmful regulations.
“I’ve listened to very serious people who say things like, ‘Well why don’t these platforms compile a list of reputable sources and only let users post content from those sources,” said Hernández-Echevarría Reality lives that and knows that will cause trouble. “
European fact-checkers helped the European Union update the bloc’s Code of Conduct on Disinformation – a voluntary set of guidelines for social media businesses first introduced in 2018.
Giovanni Zagni, director of the Italian fact-checking outlet Facta, argues this kind of loose commitments are preferred any form of government regulation that has the potential to interfere with freedom of expression.
“There are occasional cases where it is clear what is true or what is wrong, but the vast majority of cases are somewhat gray,” he said. “I think putting the ‘true’ or ‘false’ category in a regulatory mechanism shouldn’t be decided by the authorities.”
However, according to Zagni, governments could play a role in modeling good behavior for social media platforms.
Hernández-Echevarría agreed, adding: Regardless of how these guidelines are enforced, Verifying facts has to be part of the solution.
Interesting fact checks
- Boom: Fake news about peasant protests, led by old pictures and videos
- Between November 26, 2020 and February 23, 2021, BOOM published 101 unique fact-checking of untruths related to the protests against the three controversial agrarian reform laws passed in India’s parliament in September. The amount of visual misinformation / disinformation caught the fact checkers’ attention. According to this analysis, images were the most popular medium for spreading falsehoods (62.5%), followed by videos (33%). Around 74% of all fact checks used real content shared with incorrect contextual information.
- UT News: Asteroid dust found in crater completes dinosaur extinction case
- All right … This is not a fact-checking, but an “impactful” study that could help humanity fill a historical void. Researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Texas at Austin said they had “closed the case that killed the dinosaurs”. It was an asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago. It hit the Yucatán peninsula near the Gulf of Mexico. Details in the article, folks!
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Thank you for reading Factually.
Cris and Harrison