2021 Shortlist

Fact-checking: A year of infodemic

Country/area: Philippines

Organisation: Rappler

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 23 Dec 2020

Credit: Pauline Macaraeg

Project description:

Along with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 came the spread of disinformation and misinformation on social media platforms in what is dubbed as an “infodemic.” To combat this problem, hundreds of media and independent organizations banded together to fact-check these false, misleading, and dangerous social media posts over the course of the year. 

This story summarized the frequency of the false posts, the themes and favorite topics of such falsehoods, and the number of fact-check articles published worldwide to correct these posts.

Impact reached:

The project collated a year’s worth of false information about COVID-19 not only in the Philippines but globally. It visualized how both disinformation and misinformation about the virus grew, and that this so-called “infodemic” is dangerous, too, like the disease itself.

Techniques/technologies used:

We analyzed the rows in the central database of fact checks via Google Spreadsheets, and displayed the summaries through graphs made in Flourish and Datawrapper.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was going through over 9,000 entries of fact checks from hundreds of organizations around the world. Although the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) provides a database, Rappler had to clean the raw data from it and process it to more effectively show the gravitas of the infodemic, particularly in the Philippines.

What can others learn from this project?

This project shows that cooperation is important, especially in fighting disinformation. This story would not exist without the IFCN, which made it easier for fact-checkers to verify information with each other as falsehoods spread in different areas in the world.

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