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First Draft supports Comprobado, a collaborative verification project in Spain

Comprobado will investigate instances of mis- and disinformation in the lead-up to the Spanish general election on April 28 and beyond

Spanish fact-checking organisation Maldita.es and First Draft have launched a collaborative journalism project that unites more than a dozen newsrooms across Spain in the fight against disinformation.

Voters are due to head to the polls for a snap general election on April 28, meaning both genuine political actors and agents of disinformation will be competing for attention online.

Political statements, viral messages, emotive reports, photos and videos will all require verification to ensure voters are properly informed.

As such, Comprobado brings together Spanish journalists from 16 newsrooms to investigate mis- and disinformation circulating online in the run-up to election day and beyond.

The project’s goal is to verify both politicians’ statements and viral content which may be trying to influence voters without being fully accurate. Participating newsrooms cooperate on verification and support the work of their partners using First Draft’s CrossCheck platform to investigate and report on the key trends.

Participants include AFP, Ara, Datadista, El Diario de Navarra, EFE, El Confidencial, eldiario.es, El Faradio, Europa Press, La Marea, Newtral, Politibot, Público, RTVE, Servimedia and Maldita.es.

The CrossCheck platform is designed and managed by First Draft to help journalists collaborate on investigations and give audiences the information they need. It’s based on the experience of running similar projects hosted during recent elections in the US, Brazil, France and Nigeria.

Journalists participating in Comprobado locate mis- and disinformation jointly and investigate them collaboratively, each making contributions to the verification process.

In selecting what to verify, partners monitor social networks and receive tips submitted by the general public. They also take into account the danger posed by the content. They verify disinformation that incites hatred towards a group or that endangers public health or social peace, regardless of its virality, while simultaneously avoiding the amplification of rumours.

Anyone can submit a tip on the Comprobado website, which will notify newsrooms to suspect posts, images or videos. Journalists can then launch investigations, building evidence around the veracity of a claim, discussing their findings, picking up where others left off, and bringing different perspectives.

Once partners reach a conclusion about a claim, they collect the relevant evidence in a report for other newsrooms to double-check and approve.

For a report to be published to Comprobado’s public website, it must be approved by at least three Comprobado partner organisations.

All Comprobado members work under the same rules, which are established in the CrossCheck Code of Principles. They are committed to carrying out investigations impartially, adhering to strict journalistic criteria when selecting, verifying and validating claims from social media.

Comprobado began life at a February 2019 meeting in Madrid, in which Maldita.es, in collaboration with First Draft, invited 40 Spanish newsrooms to discuss their concerns and strategies after the announcement of the snap election.

The event had two core objectives: to help newsrooms raise awareness of the threat of disinformation, and to address whether media outlets are more effective, and have greater impact, when they work together.

But Comprobado is designed to be a sustainable project that goes beyond elections.

While the April 28 election will provide a basis for establishing the newsroom network in Spain, this will just be the start: journalists will be able to continue their collaborative investigations during the election and beyond.

Make sure to keep an eye on the Comprobado website for all the reports and investigations by the newsrooms as Spain heads to the polls.