A local reporting project in Brazil and countering disinformation in Taiwan
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
A big welcome to the new issue of The Checklist! With this issue, we bring you a brand new design with new sections and content that is regional and relevant. The first section, The Check Global Report, includes highlights of significant developments related to media and tech in emerging economies. Our biweekly Q&A showcases the work of groups and people we partner with. In this issue, we bring to you the work of a women-led hyperlocal newsletter from Brazil. Stay tuned to our Product Updates to learn about the latest features in our software Check and the ways in which it is serving the needs of newsrooms and civil society groups. Townsquare is where we have gathered information on significant events and opportunities related to media and fact-checking. And to share resources, we have the last section on What else we’re reading!
In this edition, we take a look at how the Taiwanese have formed unique alliances with their government to counter Chinese disinformation. In a report from Kenya, it is the absence of digital transparency and accountability in election data transmission that makes Kenyans distrust technology to run elections. In Latin America, we share an exclusive interview in which Sophie Zhang, a former employee at Facebook, shares about the lack of content moderation she saw on the platform and its relation to the changes seen in Latin America’s political landscape. Civil society organizations working in Arabic-speaking countries demand the immediate release of Meta’s India human rights impact assessment (HRIA) and BSR’s independent review of Meta’s content moderation in Palestine.
We are also excited to announce the Check Global Independent Media Response Fund. Individuals and groups may apply for micro-grants to fund projects contributing to the fight against climate misinformation. You can learn more about the fund here.
We hope you’ll enjoy the new sections! Do share feedback and suggestions. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q&A with Entre Becos: a women-led hyperlocal newsletter from the peripheries of Brazil
In 2021, the Check Global program supported our partner Agencia Mural to expand its work in the peripheries of São Paulo, Brazil, and to pilot a new chapter in the city of Salvador, almost 2.000 kilometers away. It was through this support that Entre Becos, a newsletter and a collective of social communicators, was launched. We interviewed the founders of the newsletter to better understand the project, its need, and its challenges.
What was the impact of Agencia Mural´s methodology and mentorship in training you to set up a local reporting project?
Rosana: It was important to learn from Mural, how to do neighborhood journalism, how to look at the places around us, see them through a different lens and try to create new perceptions. Usually, reports on the neighborhood focus on tragedy. Through this mentorship, we learned how to expand the main editorial focus beyond this and to talk about our neighborhoods by covering local economy, education, and cultural issues. It was really interesting to learn from them and work with the residents to contribute to the local agendas, articles, and construction of different narratives.
Gabrielle: The experience of the Mural mentorship was like that of an incubator, every meeting and session was eye-opening. The newsletter is the MVP (minimum viable product) we could make. It was a formative process, both as an entrepreneurship venture and as a new way of doing things. It was certainly a way to improve our confidence and self-esteem as journalists.
Brenda: During the training, we understood how important it is to have a correspondent from the place that is being reported on, and to have the point of view of the residents whose idea of newsworthiness is unique and may not be reflected in mainstream media.
How are the needs of the local community driving the Entre Becos Collective forward?
Brenda: We are aware that it will be difficult to reach our audience. They continue to consume content produced by mainstream media who are not familiar with the local circumstances and context and seek stories from the local communities as just another source of violent entertainment.
Rosana: This is a time of discovery and understanding. We want to expand our work, and given that the newsletter does not reach our public directly, we want to explore the possible formats using WhatsApp. The main goal is to produce credible journalism that the public can have access to and can use to seek their rights, contributing directly to our democracy.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Belo Horizonte, Kochi, Bhimtal and Nairobi
In March, Taiwan made headlines when it once again topped the Digital Society Project's world ranking of countries receiving the most fake news online. Since the island began separating from the mainland in 1949, the latter has been refining its approaches to encourage reunification by capturing the Taiwanese imagination. What started with megaphones and songs has shifted to increasingly malicious conspiracy theories and fabricated rumors.
As China ramps up its fake news campaign, the Taiwanese are finding ways to fight back. They've formed unique alliances with their government and are working to restore public trust.
"This is fear-mongering to wear down Taiwanese people. China has tried to threaten us like this before." — Summer Chen, chief editor, Taiwanese FactCheck Center (TFC)
“But neither Taiwan's government nor its people appear willing to give in to the threat. Elected on a platform of Taiwanese nationalism, President Tsai Ing-Wen's government has joined a unique alliance with nonprofit organizations to combat China's disinformation campaigns.” — Quoc Tan Trung Nguyen, author of the article and PhD Candidate, University of Victoria
Despite Kenya's reputation as a technology hub in Africa, the country is yet to achieve digital transparency and accountability in election data transmission, as the August 9 election shows. Many voters and aspirants fear that digitizing the process from voter registration to vote counting and tallying creates room for rigging, which is why the bulk of the process is still conducted manually.
“Kenyans don’t trust technology to run the electoral process. We are afraid that systems might be hacked. People want to see the votes counted one by one” — Egline Samoei, technology observer in the 2022 Kenya election
Reporting fake Facebook accounts was “emptying the ocean with a sieve”, says former employee (Agência Pública)
In a exclusive interview Sophie Zhang, Facebook former employee, shares about the lack of content moderation she saw on the platform and its relation to the changes seen in Latin America’s political landscape.
"In the case of Honduras, it took nine months to get Facebook to agree to start investigating this." — Sophie Zhang, Facebook former employee
She even held a briefing meeting with the company's vice president, Guy Rosen, in mid-2019, regarding this network of fake accounts. “Frankly, I was impressed that he was willing to talk to me, I was honest. He was curious about what was going on. I informed him of the situation. He said essentially, this sounds bad, but we have priorities and this is not one of them.”
Meta’s Treatment of the India Human Rights Impact Assessment Is an Alarming Precedent for Arabic Speaking Countries (SMEX)
Civil society organizations working in Arabic-speaking countries demand the immediate release of Meta’s India human rights impact assessment (HRIA) and BSR’s independent review of Meta’s content moderation in Palestine. Meta contracted with BSR, a third-party assessor, “to conduct a thorough examination to determine whether Facebook’s content moderation in Arabic and Hebrew, including its use of automation, have been applied without bias,” and promised to release the report “in the first quarter of 2022.”
"we are calling for the following actions from Meta: Publicly release, without further delay, the full and unedited report for Palestine that includes all of BSR’s findings and recommendations, and release the India human rights impact assessment with all of Foley Hoag’s findings and recommendations, and explain associated security concerns in greater detail to Indian civil society"
The letter was signed by civil society groups: SMEX, 7amleh, Access Now, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mnemonic, MENA Rights Group, The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (thePIPD), and individuals.
Leading newsrooms in Brazil are using Check to verify news ahead of elections
For the Brazilian election, we’re excited to announce that Check is enabling the collaboration of 4 leading newsrooms in Brazil and of the Comprova alliance: Estadão, Lupa, and Aos Fatos through a Shared Feed of claims and fact-checks. This is the second election we’re deploying the Shared Feed and iterating on it, after the Philippines in March which included Rappler and 10 other local newsrooms. Shared Feeds are real-time feeds of claims and fact-checks contributed by collaborating organizations working with Check tiplines. They are designed to support newsroom consortiums. By sharing data from their own tipline with one another, new organizations gain a broader view of misinformation trends, across audiences.
If one organization detects trending claims through its own tipline, journalists from other organizations can pre-emptively produce their own fact-check to their respective audiences.
3rd party publishers managing bots on WhatsApp can integrate with feed APIs in order to provide their audience with a fact-checking service.
Platforms can subscribe to a Shared Feed to understand the specific nature of misinformation.
Registration for the Knight Center's new MOOC, "Information and Elections in the Digital Era," is now open. The five-week massive open online course will be held from September 19 to October 23, 2022.
September 30 (Deadline)
Grants to combat climate misinformation: Meedan is accepting applications for the Check Global Independent Media Response Fund, which addresses global challenges with hyperlocal communities. The fund aims to support small and medium-sized media initiatives focusing on climate misinformation.
September 27-29, 2022
United Facts of America: A festival of fact-checking This three-day online festival of fact-checking will offer forward-thinking discussions about the role of facts in everyday life with the nation's top experts in media, politics, technology and counterintelligence. Read more and sign up here.
What else we’re reading
In this article, our own Jenna Sherman comments on content moderation policies and big platforms' response to abortion misinformation and anti-abortion groups. (Politico)
This special report by Reuters documents how new video-sharing sites thrive on misinformation and hate (Reuters)
Faced with an increase in crimes against journalists in Mexico, organizations urge measures, while the government denies violence. But with the death of Fredid Román, 15 journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far in 2022. (Lat Am Journalism Review by Knight Center)
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