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TheJournal.ie FactCheck is first Irish outlet to officially tackle misinformation on Facebook

We are expanding our fact-checking mission.

THEJOURNAL.IE IS PROUD to announce that it has become the first Irish fact-checking outlet to tackle the spread of misinformation on the world’s largest social media platform.

TheJournal.ie FactCheck project has signed on to carry out third-party fact-checking on Facebook. This will involve testing the veracity of articles posted on the platform and attaching a rating and contextual information to contested items.

Not only will Facebook users who see or engage with hoaxes be notified of our factchecks; but offending posts can have their reach reduced by as much as 80%, as will pages or domains found to repeatedly post false or inaccurate information.

TheJournal.ie FactCheck was launched two years ago in the run-up to the Irish general election in 2016. Our team tested claims being made on the campaign trail in order to better equip Irish voters to separate fact from fiction before they headed to the polls.

The positive response to the project was such that FactCheck has become a regular and permanent feature of TheJournal.ie newsroom, and is currently being used to test a number of claims being made around the Eighth Amendment referendum.

FactCheck is the only Irish fact-checking resource independently audited and verified by the International Fact-Checking Network.

It was last year honoured by the Miriam Hederman O’Brien Prize jury for its services to fiscal-related policy.

TheJournal.ie Editor Susan Daly, launching today’s partnership, said:

The FactCheck project at TheJournal.ie has been a key innovation in how we test information which is influencing the decision-making of citizens in Ireland. Since its launch two years ago, FactCheck has probed claims and statements made across a diverse range of areas, from housing to health, employment to education, transport to pollution. We welcome this chance to apply our team’s expertise and knowledge to tackling the spread of disinformation on a wider platform.

Niamh Sweeney, head of Public Policy for Facebook Ireland, said:

“We are aware that the spread of false news is a concern for many people, particularly in the context of the forthcoming referendum. People want accurate information on Facebook and that is what we want, too. And while Facebook cannot be the arbiter of the truth, this fact-checking partnership with TheJournal.ie will to help reduce the spread of misinformation by showing a warning when people begin to share an article marked by a fact-checker.

“In our experience once a story is rated as false we have been able to reduce its future views by 80%. TheJournal.ie has been leading the way on fact-checking in Ireland and we are delighted to partner with them.”

In a bid to engage users in Ireland in digital literacy around news sources and trustworthy information ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, Facebook has included Irish users in a number of pilot projects.

These include the ‘view ads’ feature which went live yesterday and allows Irish users to see all ads an advertiser is running on Facebook, even if those ads are not in their individual news feed. Irish Facebook users will also have seen a ‘false news educational notice’ pop up on their feeds earlier this month with tips on how to spot misinformation.

Facebook also says that it is going to apply what it describes as ‘election integrity artificial intelligence’ for the duration of the referendum campaign. This tool was used in recent elections in France, Germany and Italy and involves identifying fake accounts and foreign interference in relation to the referendum.

The social media giant has been under pressure recently over the Cambridge Analytica controversy in which data belonging to up to 87 million people may have been shared with the political consultancy firm. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a Congressional hearing in the US two weeks ago to answer questions on privacy and security on the site.

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