Poynter: “Peter Cunliffe-Jones is the founder of the fact-checking organization Africa Check. He delivered the keynote address at Global Fact 6, the annual meeting of the International Fact-checking Network. Below is an edited version of his remarks. “I first became interested in the harm done by misinformation because of a false rumor about vaccines that emerged, not online – in a WhatsApp group, or a hidden space on the dark web – but which started in a Nigerian mosque or mosques, spread to local newspapers, was picked up by a prominent local politician, reported as fact by national papers, and, when the false claims when unchallenged, saw him create bad policy — a vaccine ban — in his state of Kano in the north of the country. Misinformation is often described as spreading like a virus… How do we end the harm that that sort of misinformation causes? Rumors that spread in on- and off-line communities, and are turned into bad practice, or — if they make it to politicians — into bad policy? What Bill Adair says is true.
Fact-checking does keep growing. But look at our budgets, our staffing, our resources, and you have to ask, how can we tackle this sort of misinformation – effectively – when we are still so small? Can we do it alone? Most academic work on fact-checking has been focused, to date, on the question of whether presenting the public with corrective information – a fact-check – will get them to update a false view. There’s a good reason for that. It’s how most of us work. And despite all the gloomy “post truth” headlines of 2016, there is growing evidence that doing this, in the right format, and repeating it, does work, for a while at least, in helping people to update their views…”