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An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from the world’s fact-checkers (including TheJournal.ie)

Fact-checkers from around the world, including TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck, set out their stall on Facebook and fake news.

The International Fact-Checking Network

AMID CONCERNS THAT bogus news stories and online misinformation may have unduly influenced the recent US presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently defended the social network, calling the allegation “a pretty crazy idea”.

Today, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in the US, has published this open letter to Zuckerberg.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the letter, as well as to the IFCN’s Code of Principles.

facebook-mobile-9 Source: Marcio Jose Sanchez/PA Images

Mr Zuckerberg —

Last week you wrote that the problem of fake news and false information online is particularly complex. In your words: “Identifying the ‘truth’ is complicated.” We agree. It also cannot be the exclusive responsibility of any one organisation.

As a network of independent fact-checking organisations set up to promote accuracy in public debate and the media everywhere from South Africa to Nepal, Argentina to the United Kingdom, and adhering to an open code of fact-checking principles, this is a challenge we deal with daily.

Popular posts carrying fake health claims have served to peddle bogus medical cures and undermine public health campaigns around the world. False claims carried online have been used to incite violence in countries such as Nepal and Nigeria. Spurious allegations on Facebook led to a woman being beaten to death in Brazil.

We recognize that Facebook also represents a crucial tool to disseminate accurate information and that it can be a vital component of a healthy public debate.

We believe that Facebook should start an open conversation on the principles that could underpin a more accurate news ecosystem on its News Feed. The global fact-checking community is eager to take part in this conversation.

Many of our organisations already provide training in fact-checking to media organisations, universities and the general public. We would be glad to engage with you about how your editors could spot and debunk fake claims.

We also believe it is vital to strengthen the role of users in combating disinformation. Numerous studies show that, regardless of partisan ideology, people are very good at accepting information that conforms to their preconceptions, even if it is false.

Facebook should strengthen users’ ability to identify fake posts and false news by themselves, as the scale of the problem is too vast for a purely top-down approach.

We were heartened to hear you express concern about viral hoaxes. We do not presume to have all or even most of the answers to address this scourge, but we urgently invite you to start a conversation about it.

Signatories
Africa Check | Agência Lupa | Agência Pública – Truco | Aos Fatos |Colombiacheck | Chequeado | Doğruluk Payı | El Objetivo | FactCheck.org |FactCheckNI | Full Fact | Istinomer | Istinomjer | Observador | OjoPúblico |Pagella Politica | PolitiFact | |South Asia Check | TheJournal.ie FactCheck |The Washington Post Fact Checker

This letter was originally published by the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here.

For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here

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The International Fact-Checking Network

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