Commentary

Transparency statement from IFCN lacks transparency

The IFCN’s 2020 transparency statement about its “Code of Principles” enforcement strangely lacks transparency. The IFCN does a particularly bad job of explaining how it handles complaints about its signatory organizations. The IFCN first allowed the public to lodge complaints about its signatory fact-checking organizations in 2018. Little fanfare accompanied the move, continuing through 2019. But apparently word got out…
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The week in weak fact-checking

Zebra Fact Check logo

Mainstream fact checkers have had a terrible October so far in 2020. Their poor performance prompts this answer to the Poynter Institute’s “Factually” newsletter and its “The Week in Fact-checking” with what we’re tempted to call “The Weak in Fact-checking.” FactCheck.org Whitewashes Steele Dossier Annenberg Fact Check (FactCheck.org) chastised Republicans for citing an unverified intelligence report from Russia saying the…
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Snopes’ semantic contortions on Trump & taxes

Mainstream fact checker Snopes.com on Sept. 28, 2016 (tweeted out on its four-year anniversary) published a fact check on whether Donald Trump said not paying federal taxes made him smart. The fact check exemplifies one of the semantic games mainstream fact checkers end up playing: Interpreting claims to fit a narrative instead of giving them a natural contextual interpretation. The…
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Another International Fact-Checking Network failure on accountability

The International Fact-Checking Network has updated its system for verifying fact-checking organizations’ compliance with its “Code of Principles” in 2020. But in practice so far the new IFCN system seems no better than the one Zebra Fact Check tested in 2019. In 2019 the review of PolitiFact failed to mention complaints Zebra Fact Check submitted. The IFCN failed to deliver…
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Poynter Institute allowing the attribution style that led to Jim Romenesko’s resignation

Things have come full circle at the Poynter Institute in the past 10 years. Jim Romenesko ran a popular journalism blog for the Poynter Institute journalism school until 2011. Romenesko’s blog highlighted stories relating to the field of journalism. But eventually assistant editor Erika Fry of Columbia Journalism Review noticed that Romenesko was using verbatim quotations in his summary blurbs…
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Notes on the International Fact-Checking Network’s upcoming annual review of PolitiFact

Zebra Fact Check documented the International Fact-Checking Network’s 2019 failure to hold its stable of “verified” fact-checking organizations to account. PolitiFact, which shares ownership with the IFCN, was notable in escaping scrutiny. The IFCN has yet to explain those failures, but coincidentally or otherwise it revised its Code of Principles in December 2019 along with its methods for verifying compliance…
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Media Bias/Fact Check Blinded by Science Feedback? (Updated)

Recently we chanced on the Science Feedback evaluation at Media Bias/Fact Check, a website that uses subjective ratings to score the bias and accuracy of various websites (including Zebra Fact Check). Apparently blinded by “Science,” Media Bias/Fact Check gave Science Feedback its highest rating for factual accuracy. Indeed, Media Bias/Fact Check proclaimed Science Feedback a “Pro-Science” source. Yet in 2019…
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An Unhealthy ‘PolitiFact Health Check’

This week PolitiFact, with its franchise partner Kaiser Health News, published what was, in effect, a fact check of a prediction by President Barack Obama. “PolitiFact Health Check” awarded Mr. Obama a “True” rating for his prediction. Spoiler: For good reason, fact checkers usually try to avoid doing fact checks on predictions. A Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn the ACA?…
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Facebook’s Fact-Checking Needs Work

For whatever reason, we encounter very few examples of Facebook’s fact-checking effort while using Facebook. An example today renews our concerns about that effort, with the system flagging a picture the fact-checking system associated with false content. “See Why”? Let’s. The photo of two women wearing facemasks supposedly counts as false information because a “Viral poem about staying home was…
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