This past week, Facebook launched an initiative with two Brazilian fact-checking agencies, Aos Fatos and Agência Lupa. The purpose of the initiative is to fact-check content flagged by users and by Facebook’s internal monitoring systems. Flagged content deemed false or misleading is then subject of fact-checks, published on fact-checkers’ sites as well as on Facebook as Related Articles. Additionally, signals from fact-checkers will result in fewer people seeing this content in the first place – although this problematic content will not be eliminated from the News Feed entirely.
This initiative has recently been attacked in Brazilian media. Worse, specific employees at Aos Fatos, Agência Lupa and Agência Pública have also been targeted online. Aos Fatos, Agência Lupa and Agência Pública are signatories to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) Code of Principles, and they have been approved twice by its independent review system in Brazil. In an article in support of these agencies, IFCN Director Alexios Mantzarlis writes: “This is about more than individual fact-checkers. It’s about facts in public discourse. Facts matter — but we must stand up for them.”
We join the IFCN in asserting that facts are of the utmost importance to democracy and a shared sense of reality. News media around the world are under attack by campaigns designed to sow discord and create instability, and we firmly believe that we are better off working against these forces together, as a united front for truth and civility.
First Draft works to improve verification skills in newsrooms and fact-checking agencies around the world by building diverse coalitions to fight mis- and disinformation. We stand against online bullying and the undermining of those who seek to promote the truth.