Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Fact-checks hobbled by reach: study

ECHO CHAMBER:Garnering only up to 0.3% of Twitter engagement, fact-checking groups are being forced to mimic the memes of the fake news they aim to debunk

Reuters, BRUSSELS

In Germany, only 2.2 percent of Twitter users mapped in the study retweeted, replied or mentioned the content distributed by six fact-checking groups.

Alto’s research faces constraints. The focus on publicly available Twitter data might not accurately reflect the whole online conversation across various platforms, the period of the study stops short of the May elections and there are areas of dispute over what constitutes disinformation. It also lacks data from Facebook.

As the rapid spread of fake news on social media has raised the profile of fact-checking groups, it is forcing them to rethink how they work.

If they once focused on holding politicians to account, fact-checkers are now seeking to influence a wider audience.

Clara Jimenez, cofounder Maldita.es, a Spanish fact-checking group partnered with Facebook, mimics the methods used by those spreading false news. That means going viral with memes and videos.

Maldita.es focuses largely on WhatsApp and asks people to send fact-checks back to those in their networks who first spread the fake news.

“You need to try reach real people,” said Jimenez, who also aims to promote better media literacy. “One of the things we have been asked several times is whether people can get pregnant from a mosquito bite. If people believe that, we have a bigger issue.”

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