In France, Google and Facebook are hoping to get ahead of the “fake news” fury that exploded in the U.S. shortly after the November presidential election. Google announced Monday it’s teaming up with media outlets from Agence France-Presse to BuzzFeed News to Le Monde on a countrywide factchecking initiative the partners are calling CrossCheck. As a part of the initiative, Facebook is also working with news organizations to reduce the amount of misinformation and hoax stories from appearing on its platform, offering up tools like CrowdTangle to help monitor election-related posts on social media and focusing on other “media literacy efforts.”
CrossCheck factchecks will live on a separate website, and interested readers can submit questions about unverified or questionable sites and social posts to the CrossCheck team for debunking or verification. News partners in the CrossCheck network will be producing their own stories based on information gathered as part of the initiative:
Developed from ideas initially shared at a First Draft Partner Network meeting in September 2016, CrossCheck has been designed in consultation with local and national newsrooms in France. Seventeen newsrooms have already joined the project and early partners include AFP (Agence France-Presse), BuzzFeed News, France Médias Monde (via les Observateurs de France 24), France Télévisions, Global Voices, Libération, La Provence, Les Echos, La Voix du Nord, Le Monde, Nice-Matin, Ouest-France, Rue89 Bordeaux, Rue89Lyon, Rue89 Strasbourg, Storyful and StreetPress. Each participating newsroom will contribute their own experience, resources and regional knowledge to speed and strengthen the verification process, and to ensure that accurate reports reach citizens across the country and beyond. CrossCheck partners, including a number of international news organizations, will ultimately make use of these reports in their own articles, programs and social media output.
CrossCheck is also making use of tools like Meedan’s Check for collaborative verification and Chicago-based startup Hearken’s platform for managing reader submissions. The effort will also include outreach to students. It’s a model based in part on work done during Electionland (which also used Check), in which more than a thousand reporters and students scoured the country on Election Day to surface issues people had trying to cast their votes, :
As with Electionland, selected students will receive training to use a combination of pioneering newsroom technologies and advanced search techniques. CrossCheck will invite volunteers from CFJ and Science Po Journalism School in Paris to take part. CrossCheck editors from participating newsrooms will then summarize and add context to each claim, creating a live feed of shareable report cards on the CrossCheck site. This feed will be overseen by the Agence-France Presse.
First Draft Founding Partner Bellingcat will map patterns and behaviors within the misinformation ecosystem as part of a wider research relating to the European elections. Timely reports and graphics produced by Bellingcat will feature on the CrossCheck site throughout this project.
Fact-checking initiatives are proliferating, led in part by the platforms roundly criticized for their role in (or previous ambivalence towards) the spread of hoax stories on their platforms. In the U.S., Facebook is now working with Snopes, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, ABC, and the Associated Press to verify reports on its platform. Facebook announced a similar effort in Germany last month
and is currently looking for other news partners to join the nonprofit investigative outfit Correctiv in checking disputed stories.