Fact-checking networks can pool resources and share information and best practices: measures which help to heighten efficiency, improve overall results, and ultimately increase public trust.
What is the network approach?
The network approach to fact-checking involves the creation of umbrella organizations that can coordinate local operations on a much wider scale. By interconnecting fact-checking initiatives and creating unified standards, a network approach amplifies capacity, effectiveness and reach.
What kinds of misinformation does this approach most effectively address?
Network approaches are primarily aimed at countering viral political misinformation and hence at protecting democracy. They are also aimed at ensuring that fact-checking does not itself become a vector for misinformation by misuse or abuse.
What are the advantages of this approach?
The creation of a fact-checking network through joint standards, best practices, information sharing and resource pooling has the advantage of spreading the workload across a wider group of fact-checkers. It allows for the mass improvement of fact-checking operations and can increase public trust in them through systems of audits or certifications that ensure that specialized or smaller initiatives are following common standards.
What are some of the challenges for this approach?
The network approach requires a central organization with exceptional access to resources and credibility. Bodies such as the EU have also criticized the approach as a “band-aid” solution. The argument is that networks are simply increasing the resources for countering false claims, instead of directing similar resources towards structural change via increased regulation of the media and social platforms.
How does it compare to other approaches?
The network approach is a complementary activity that can bring together a variety of groups using other approaches and amplify their reach.
What are some examples of best practice?
The most prominent is the International Fact-Checking Network (ICFN), which is a unit of the Poynter Institute. The IFCN has a Code of Principles and organizations can have the IFCN perform a fact-check audit to evaluate the extent to which they conform to these principles.
Another major player is the The European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), an EU-funded project. EDMO “aims at creating and supporting the work of an independent multidisciplinary community capable of contributing to a deeper understanding of the disinformation phenomenon and to increase societal resilience to it”. The project has started its activities on 1 June 2020. EDMO will serve as a hub for fact-checkers, academics and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate with each other and actively link with media organisations, media literacy experts, and provide support to policy makers.
Nuts and Bolts:
Costs: very high;
Funding: grants from civil society organizations, state development budgets and NGOs;
Topics: amplification of the activities of other fact-checking organizations.
Related resources: Global Investigative Journalism Network