Misinformation is a global problem that demands a global response. The international fact-checking movement has come together in different ways to develop shared solutions.
Across the many different contexts in which fact-checkers operate, cross-border collaboration has been key to the field’s development.
International Fact-Checking Network
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), based at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida (also the parent organization of PolitiFact), has played a central role in such efforts. IFCN membership is open to fact-checkers who sign on to a code of principles. These commit members to nonpartisanship and fairness, open and honest corrections, and transparency of sources, funding, and methodology.
New signatories apply for membership to Poynter, which vets fact-checkers based on an external assessment of their compliance with these principles as well as with certain minimum standards (for example, they must conduct at least one fact-check per week).
IFCN facilitates communication and collaboration among its members by organizing annual conferences, publishing a weekly newsletter, raising public awareness, and offering fellowships to fact-checkers and funds to promising initiatives.
Crucially, Facebook has made IFCN membership a requirement for partners wishing to participate in the platform’s fact-checking operations. Google News Initiative operates similar partnerships with IFCN and its members.
These partnerships provide an additional source of funding to many fact-checking outlets. When Facebook users or algorithms flag a post as meriting attention, it is sent to partner organizations for verification. If they determine that an article or link contains inaccurate information, Facebook will make it appear less frequently in users’ feeds and include a link to the fact-check.
Facebook’s collaborators have expressed mixed views about the company’s approach to fact-checking. Snopes, a longstanding American outlet, ended its relationship with Facebook after about two years, arguing that they wanted to make fact-checking work better not just for Facebook, but for all audiences. Most fact-checkers are satisfied with aspects of Facebook’s program but all insist that the platform must do more to stop the spread of mis- and disinformation.
In addition, some fact-checkers have banded together more closely on a range of projects. Nine fact-checking, data journalism, and media organizations (including Bellingcat, Verification Junkie, and the Emergent rumor tracker) came together in 2015 to found First Draft News. This global non-profit provides online verification training and has sponsored collaborative projects to fact-check news in Australia, Brazil, France, Nigeria, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay, particularly during election campaigns.
Three fact-checking outfits from different parts of the world have formed a particularly productive alliance. Africa Check (which operates in different countries across sub-Saharan Africa), Chequeado (Argentina), and Full Fact (UK) have held conferences and hackathons together. They have also worked to develop automation tools that they can make available to other groups. Currently, this trio of organizations is engaged in a joint research program to examine the efficacy, audiences, and possible methods for improving fact-checking.
By working together in networks large and small, fact-checkers hope to reinforce one another’s efforts and develop shared tools for combating misinformation in different contexts.