A pioneering cross country collaboration to combat misinformation
And, Meedan's partnership with the Superior Electoral Court in Brazil to address misinformation.
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
Earlier this month we introduced a new design and new sections in the Checklist. We hope you liked it and that every edition enriches your reading experience and keeps you on top of the misinformation news from around the world.
In this edition, we learn from a pioneering collaboration between our partners Taiwan FactCheck Center & VERA Files on addressing misinformation across countries and about Meedan´s new partnership with the Superior Electoral Court in Brazil to counter election misinformation. We are also piloting auto-tags, a new feature in Check, that helps journalists categorize content received through their tipline faster.
We bring you updates from all around the world. This includes reports on online attacks on Brazilian women candidates, AFP’s new WhatsApp tipline in Spanish during the US mid-term election, worries about disinformation and misrepresentation of history in the Philippines, and homegrown influencers spreading disinformation in Kenya.
Also, take a look at the Townsquare section where we share opportunities and events.
If there are updates you would like us to share from your country or region, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Q&A: Addressing misinformation across countries, a pioneering collaboration between Taiwan FactCheck Center & VERA Files
As misinformation spreads across countries on encrypted messaging apps, immigrant and diaspora communities, relying on these messaging apps, are at threat. During large events, such as elections, misleading claims and conspiracy theories infiltrate immigrant communities through messaging apps and social media platforms. With little or no access to factual and verified information, immigrant communities finding trusted messaging sources can be challenging. A pioneering and collaborative project by two Check Global partners, Taiwan FactCheck Center (TFC) and VERA Files, addressed this issue of misinformation among Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan. We spoke to Summer Chen, editor at Taiwan FactCheck Center, Isaiah Christian Antonio, Program Manager for the project, and Celine Samson, head of VERA Files' Facebook fact-check team about this project and their future plans.
How did VERA Files and Taiwan FactCheck Center come together to work on this initiative?
Celine: We launched our Viber misinformation tipline in November 2021. We promoted this tipline widely. It was the first misinformation tipline in the Asia Pacific region. We worked with Meedan to launch the tipline. Taiwan FactCheck Center reached out to us and asked if we wanted to promote the tipline in Taiwan. We were very interested since there is a huge Filippino diaspora community living abroad.
Summer: There is a large Filipino community in Taiwan with over 159,000 migrant workers here. When we connected with VERA Files, we were really excited about collaborating with them and addressing misinformation among the migrant community. For TFC, it was difficult to reach the Filipino community on our own because of the language and the cultural gap. However, promoting the VERA tipline on Viber, gave us an opportunity to reach out to this community and work with them. We got funding support from Meedan and we hired Isaiah Christian Antonio, a Filipino student who had just finished his Masters's degree, to work as the project manager.
The Check Global Report
By Meedan’s Check Global team in Beirut, Belo Horizonte, Kochi, Bhimtal, and Nairobi
Egypt frees Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed al-Najdi (Al Jazeera)
Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed al-Najdi has been released by Egyptian authorities after spending over two years in detention, without going on trial. Al Jazeera Media Network had previously demanded that Egyptian authorities release al-Najdi along with three of his colleagues who had also been detained “without trial or charge”.
Najdi said that he believed he was on his way to the grave, in comments made shortly after his release.
Crazy, mad, delusional: misogyny dominates offenses to women candidates in the Brazilian elections (AzMina)
Allusions to madness, hysteria, or mental illness are the main way found by Twitter users to address women candidates for Brazilian Executive and Legislative positions in this election. In the first week of the campaign, 97 women running for office received almost 4,500 attacks and/or insults on Twitter.
“Corroborating this kind of narrative is extremely damaging for several reasons. First, because it perpetuates the idea that women who take a stand are unbalanced, are “crazy”. Second, because it contributes to the understanding that ‘character deviations’ are pathologies or mental illnesses and that disorders lead to forms of aggression towards the other”, — according to Giovana Durat, a psychologist who studies the impacts of gender issues in the formation of women's subjectivities.
AFP announced a WhatsApp tip line for Spanish speakers during US midterm elections using Meedan's Check (AFP)
The news agency Agence France-Presse just launched a disinformation tip line on WhatsApp for Spanish false information verification in the United States ahead of the fall midterm elections. Fact-checkers at AFP already have experience with similar tip lines in India, France, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico. Like with its tip lines in other countries, AFP uses the Meedan check tool for the U.S.-based one, which it runs out of its Washington bureau.
“It seemed particularly relevant to launch in the U.S. in Spanish in the run-up to the midterms, in agreement with the Meta team, as we know that the Latino community is likely to be targeted by disinformation campaigns.” — Grégoire Lemarchand, AFP’s deputy editor-in-chief
The Philippines: Groups urge fight vs. disinformation ahead of Martial Law 50th anniversary commemoration (CNN)
Three days before the country marks the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, groups said ramping up the fight against disinformation is crucial to preserving history, as organizations held several events over the weekend. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines joined calls to fight disinformation about Martial Law, especially on social media. They rode bikes around historical sites on Saturday to denounce historical revisionism and recall the atrocities of the regime.
"Amid the widespread disinformation and historical distortion, especially in social media, it is our urgent duty as educators to teach our youth of our history based on facts and actual experiences of our people during the Martial Law period." — The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines
When Kenya went to the polls on 9 August, information operations and disinformation campaigns had emerged as a cause for concern, with early indications suggesting that social media messaging did shape the highly contested race that resulted in a Supreme Court challenge. Unlike previous elections, where online influence operations were orchestrated by actors outside the country, this election saw the rise of homegrown influencers who used social media to distort reality and amplify misleading content online.
While disinformation campaigns have been a feature of elections globally, the ability to amplify messages online has enabled the authors or their proxies to reach a wider audience. In settings where institutions of governance are weak – including the courts and the checks on power offered by traditional media – disinformation campaigns can severely undermine democracies — Boniface Bati, Institute for Security Studies Consultant
MEEDAN partners with the Superior Electoral Court in Brazil to counter election misinformation
Ahead of the Presidential elections in Brazil, Meedan has partnered with the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) to enable users of its official WhatsApp channel to identify fake news related to the electoral process. The TSE chatbot is now integrated with a shared feed through Meedan’s Check which allows voters to search by topic and immediately receive content verified by a group of agencies - Comprova: newsroom alliance, Estadao, Lupa, Aos Fatos. Read more here and here.
Here is an example of a user using the TSE tipline.
Auto-tagging feature in Check
During the Brazil Elections, we are also piloting Auto-tags in Check to help journalists categorize content received through their tipline faster. Powered by an algorithm trained on millions of Portuguese headlines, the auto-tag feature will detect content related to election and automatically apply a tag. This feature will help Check users to annotate data for research, find trends and perform editorial actions based on these tags. In the future, we plan to generalize this feature to other languages and categories, such as health, climate change, and others.
Global Voices hosts an event on Techno-authoritarianism in India. The country's rapid digitization has been accompanied by an array of practices that curtail citizens' liberties. Join the community live on YouTube for a discussion of how citizens are pushing back.
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.
FiSahara Western Sahara International Festival is being held this year in Ausserd Sahrawi refugees camp in Algeria. The annual human rights film and cultural festival are one of the world’s most remote film festivals. The festival also provides special training to Sahrawi human rights advocates and filmmakers.
Environmental Justice Reporting Story Grants for Asia-Pacific Youth, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) is offering up to 20 reporting grants to youth journalists in the Asia-Pacific region, to support the production of in-depth stories on environmental and climate injustice.