CounterPropaganda · Information Warfare · Russia

There are now 114 fact-checking initiatives in 47 countries

Countries shaded in green have at least one active dedicated fact-checking initiative (Data from Duke Reporters’ Lab)

Note the faux fact-checking effort by the Russian MFA, which by itself was fake news, is not listed, nor is it operational.  The website was widely trounced for making claims that stories were false while providing absolutely no proof, no evidence, and no substantiation of claims.  The effort appears to have lasted about one day and was stopped as it proved to be an abject PR and propaganda disaster. 

Another Russian fact check site,, run by Clint Ehrlich in Moscow, is also down and the domain is available for purchase. 

I find most of the fact-checking organizations in the US are biased, either pro-Democrat or anti-Trump. While much of the blame may lie with the Trump organization, many supposedly objective assessments include gross politically biased statements. Sometimes there are not even attempts to portray an objective perspective.  

The grand-daddy of internet fact checkers is  I joined an online forum “Group” on Facebook prior to the 2016 election and, while I expected participants to have personal opinions in one political camp or the other, my general takeaway was similar to that I got around Russian trolls.  Whenever I attempted to present a purely objective and factual statement, I was overwhelmed with hateful statements and quite literally overwhelmed with responses which were all anti-Trump – even though I made a purposefully neutral apolitical statement.  The trolls won and I stopped participating recently, it had become exasperating. 

I will continue to push a fair and objective agenda, an apolitical course, and a factually based dialogue.  I will point out obvious bias. 

One observation about this report.  Finding the database behind this report turned out to be a little challenge. It was nested within multiple layers.  I was presented with a map which showed where various fact-checking organizations were located.  In the case of PropOrNot, for instance, I do not know where they are physically located on a map, so I did not know where to check. I’m certain there is an option to see a spreadsheet or a listed interface, but I did not look that far. 

Either fake news is being flagged or it is not being posted, but I have yet to see a warning on any social media that a story is fake news, that a source might not be trustworthy, or an author is a serial news faker.  Six months ago nobody cared, now it is a growth industry.  

I still see RT, Sputnik, Global Research, YourNewsWire, Russia-Insider, and other Russian propaganda sites cited on Google News from time to time.  If propaganda will be flagged as fake news, I do not know. Again, there is no official definition of propaganda, therefore no standards, no objective judgment points, and no accountability.  

I am comforted that both the US House and the Senate had recent hearings on countering Russian propaganda and disinformation, but I do not see or hear any results.  There is hope. If the hearings turn out to be politics as usual, we shall see. 

One interesting point, as a result of the hearings in Congress, is a lack of legislation. Ethics and standards in journalism are maintained widely, and the International Federation of Journalists are codifying them at the international level, but it is often self-regulating. Such is not the case in Russia, so the world, as individual countries, must deal with Russian “trash journalism“. Seeing as there is no crime being committed, except in cases of libel, no financial loss, and no real impact to flesh and blood or brick and mortar – aka real – neither the legislative or the judicial processes are involved.  This is a niche flaw in the system which Russia is fully exploiting.  

Do we need legislation?  We have the first amendment in the United States and commensurate freedom of speech and journalism elsewhere.  My gut and my heart say yes but my brain says no. 

In the meantime, Russia is solidifying a reputation for rogue journalism.  I guess that falls in line with rogue leadership, rogue governance, and rogue activities that are systemic in Russia. 

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There are now 114 fact-checking initiatives in 47 countries

By Alexios Mantzarlis, Poynter

Facts may be passé, but fact-checking appears to be a growth industry.

The latest figures by the Duke Reporters’ Lab indicate there are 114 dedicated fact-checking teams in 47 countries. When the Lab first counted up fact-checkers in 2014, the same number was 44.

While some of this increase is a matter of identification rather than creation — Duke is recognizing existing fact-checkers it hadn’t previously counted — a good part of it is new initiatives.

The growth is all the more remarkable considering that the United States, by far the country with the largest group of dedicated projects, has transitioned out of an election year.

The American total seesawed from 41 projects a year ago to 53 by Election Day and back down to 43 today. Among the discontinued outfits in the U.S. are eight PolitiFact state affiliates.

This friction is evident around the world. The Duke Reporters’ Lab is also tracking 55 currently inactive fact-checking projects. One of them, the Australian ABC Fact Check went offline last year but is set to return later this year.

Globally, fact-checking remains most popular in the Americas and Europe (see map below). One notable exception remains Germany, where fact-checking efforts have had relatively short lives.

Outside the United States, a majority of the fact-checking projects identified is not directly affiliated to a media outlet. These projects are often offshoots of NGOs or universities.

The growth of dedicated fact-checking initiatives has led some to hijack the format’s terminology and visual cues — but not its methodology. To help readers spot more reliable truth sleuths, the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter launched a code of principles for nonpartisan fact-checkers.

By Alexios Mantzarlis, Poynter



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