Latin American digital sites participating in International Fact-Checking Day to combat proliferation of fake news

While April 1 is April Fools’ Day in many countries around the world, the following day will be dedicated to finding the truth. The International Fact-Checking Network from The Poynter Institute has declared April 2 as International Fact-Checking Day in order to highlight the importance of fact-checking among readers.

According to IFCN director Alexios Mantzarlis, International Fact-Checking Day wants to encourage readers to take on fact-checking for themselves and to help counter false news and misinformation. There are already several guides available on the site to help readers along the way.

“We are doing International Fact-Checking Day as a decentralized movement where everyone can check information. We do not want the date to be about the participating organizations, but for all people to understand this issue of the importance of checking the facts,” Mantzarlis told the Knight Center.

There are currently 114 fact-checking initiatives in 47 countries, most in the Americas and Europe. Some of these organizations will participate in International Fact-Checking Day with events and workshops. Brazilian fact-checking projects at Aos Fatos and Agência Lupa, as well as Truco from Agência Pública, will host their own events. Argentina’s Chequeado, a fact checking pioneer in Latin America, is a partner of Fact-Checking Day. Activities are listed on an interactive map on the site.

So far, there are four events confirmed in Brazil, all with the motto of ‘education’ as a guide. In São Paulo, Agência Lupa will be present at FIAM-FAAM’s Journalism Week with journalist Marina Estarque*. She will be joined by Fabio Victor, reporter at Folha de S. Paulo; Leandro Beguoci, editorial director magazines at Nova Escola; and Luis Peres-Neto, professor at ESPM on Thursday.

In Rio de Janeiro, Lupa will organize two events. On March 31, there will be a workshop for journalism students with Cristina Tardáguila, founder and director of the organization. Lupa Educação (Lupa Education), a training program for students from public and private universities, will be launched on Sunday.

“It will be a branch made for the general public, for those who want to learn how to do what we do, following our methodology. This is extremely important in the philosophy of the company and in my personal belief as well. A person with good control of the data ends up making better decisions,” Tardáguila told the Knight Center.

“It is very interesting to be a journalist and a press outlet that disseminates a sense of skepticism, but also disseminates the way in which people can find the most varied answers, using the law of access to information, transparency portals and research institutes,” she added.

Also in Rio, Aos Fatos will launch a series of online courses on fact checking in partnership with the Institute of Technology and Society (ITS-Rio). The classes will discuss how data journalism and fact checking were born and the importance of these practices today. The lessons, which will be online on April 4, 6, 11 and 13, will also teach the basics on how to check a fact.

Fact-checking day is an event to show the importance of this work to the readers. This is a time when in the United States, for example, we have a candidate who has become president and lies deliberately. Fact checking has existed for a long time, but this context has highlighted it,” Tai Nalon, executive director and co-founder of Aos Fatos, told the Knight Center.

As part of April 2’s events, IFCN is organizing the ‘factcheckathon,’ a fact-checking marathon in which readers will have to mark stories as ‘fake’ on Facebook. The idea is to use the power of the public to promote the cleaning up of the social network using the fake news tool that was announced in December.

The IFCN will also put on a ‘hoax-off,’ an interactive game with the world’s most well-known false statements and stories around the world, that aims to elect the worst hoax of the last year. A quiz is also available to test knowledge about facts that have happened (or not). “It’s a way of laughing and finding that something you read is not true,” Mantzarlis said.

As of today, fact-checking lesson plans for high school teachers are already available on the initiative’s site. The files, which are in five different languages, can be downloaded directly. More languages are to come.

This initiative to educate readers and potential journalists is done in the context of recent studies, like this one from Stanford University. Research shows that students, despite being digital natives, have difficulty evaluating information on social networks.

Fact-checking organizations like Argentina’s Chequeado have also shown concern about the reception of news by younger readers and have invested in education programs for high school students. The latest Chequeado project is a module targeted at students participating in United Nations simulations. The goal is that adolescents not only learn to base their speeches on good rhetoric, but also on solid facts.

To mark International Fact-Checking Day, Chequeado, which is a partner of the event, will organize a panel discussion on fake news in Buenos Aires.

You can participate in International Fact-Checking Day by using the hashtag #FACTCHECKIT on social media.

*Marina Estarque is also a writer for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.