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How to do FACT-checking

Disinformation is a subset of propaganda, a targeted spreading of false information. It is often not easy to uncover as in contrast to misinformation it deliberately aims to mislead.

#STOPFAKENEWS: “Fake news” is false information presented as news. They may have some truth to them, but they are not fully accurate. The term is not clearly defined and is sometimes misused to neglect unfavourable news.

How to identify mis/disinformation?

In general, stop a few seconds and ask yourself:

Who is the author?
Which intention is behind it – to fully inform, to raise questions, to provoke emotions, to spread distrust…?
Be careful with sensational news as disinformation is often emotionalized. 
Instagram and lately also Twitter use check marks on accounts with many followers that confirm that there is a real person behind.

What is the original source?
Check the copyright page. Who runs the website and is it reliable?

What does the text say?
Look closer at the structure and content.
Is it an opinion with little content?
A chaotic layout and spelling mistakes could be signs of disinformation.

Do other reliable sources confirm the facts?
Type the title in the search bar and see if there is an entry in the feeds of media that you trust to be independent and that are of a high journalistic standard. You can also use a time filter in your search engine to see if the “news” is new.

Be aware & don’t share

Do not forward everything as the message could harm someone and you could unintentionally support propaganda. Pause and fact-check messages you receive saying “look what a friend/colleague forwarded to me”.

Report mis- and disinformation to fact-checking websites and speak to people sharing fake news. During the current war, many photos and videos are shared through social media.

But are the photos real? Pictures are easy to manipulate, but to identify a fake photo only needs a few seconds to do a reverse image search: open two tabs in your browser, grab your image (first tab) and drop it into the search bar on the Google Images page (second tab) or paste the URL on TinEye and see even more details on the usage of the image.

To identify a fake video is more difficult:

  1. Do not watch a plug-in, but go to YouTube directly
  1. If there is a recent date in the video title and it has been uploaded multiple times, it is probably a fake. Check the comments as perhaps someone has already posted a link of the original
  1. Look for clues by paying attention to details: to the weather, car licence plates, street signs, the language people are speaking
  1. Search for a verbal description of the video in a search engine
  1. Make a screenshot of a prominent part of the video and place it into Google Image search.
  1. Use a tool for video verification

The InVID Verification Plugin helps to fragment videos and run a reverse image search. Developed by Amnesty International, the Youtube DataViewer can find websites with copies of the video content.

Websites that fact-check news on the war in Ukraine

StopFake & VoxUkraine (UA/RUS/EN) are fact-checkers from Ukraine.

#UkraineFacts (EN) is run by more than 50 worldwide fact-checkers.

The Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map (EN) is a crowdsourced map to document and verify incidents of the war.
Bellingcat  (EN/UA/RUS) is an investigative journalism group that tracks and investigates using open source and social media information. On their platform they publish incidents in Ukraine where civilians were injured or killed.

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