Image for Debunking disinformation: seven truth defenders bringing people the facts

Debunking disinformation: seven truth defenders bringing people the facts

Fake news has been shown to spread faster than the truth. So where can you get the facts from? These sources are a good place to start

Fake news has been shown to spread faster than the truth. So where can you get the facts from? These sources are a good place to start

In the social media age it can be hard to get to the bottom of a story. According to a 2018 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, false stories spread more rapidly on Twitter than real news, and that was before Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform, which reportedly led to a surge in misinformation. 

So how can you stay reliably informed? Well, these truth defenders have your back. 

1. Newsguard 

Run by veteran journalists, NewsGuard rates the credibility of news websites and tracks online misinformation. Its browser extension gives sites a ‘nutrition label’ review for thousands of sites, explaining who is behind it, what kind of content it publishes, and why it received its rating — with specific examples of any trust issues the team found. 

Image: Annie Spratt

2. Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins was unemployed when he began a blog about weapons he’d identified in YouTube videos of the Syrian conflict. His analysis was used by human rights groups and discussed in UK parliament. He’s now a pioneer of citizen-led journalism as founder of Bellingcat, which investigates using open-source information such as videos and maps. They’re currently collating evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.

Image: Bellingcat

3. Finland’s curriculum

A special mention for the nation of Finland for taking the fight to the classroom. Media literacy has been a mainstay of the curriculum for years, but it was revised in 2016 to teach children how to spot media misinformation. Maths classes include pointers on how statistics can be massaged. Language lessons might compare factual text with propaganda. It’s surely a blueprint for the rest of the world to follow. No wonder they’re ranked the world’s happiest country.

Image: Tapio Haaja

4. Full Fact

The UK’s leading independent fact-checking organisation ensures that what comes out of our politicians’ mouths is more than just lip service. It even maintains a list of MPs who refuse to correct the record. The cross-party charity led calls for Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen to come clean on his false claims about the Covid vaccine, which led to his suspension from the party in January.

Image: Full Fact

5. Disinformation correspondent Marianna Spring

As the BBC’s first disinformation and social media correspondent, Marianna Spring has shone a light into the darkest corners of the internet, exposing Covid conspiracy theorists and the ‘disaster-deniers’ heaping misery on the survivors of terrorist atrocities. Her Panorama investigation into the rise in fake news and trolling on Twitter has earned her the badge of honour of mockery direct from the boss, Elon Musk.

Image: BBC

6. The BBC’s ‘explainer-in-chief’ Ros Atkins

The no-nonsense news hound Ros Atkins has become a household name at the BBC thanks to his snappy online explainers that dissect current events and do the rounds on social media. Dubbed the BBC’s ‘explainer-in-chief’, Atkins’ straight-talking delivery and devotion to the facts has brought clarity to topics as diverse as the war in Ukraine, the controversial arrest of protesters at King Charles’ coronation, and even a scandal at his own employer, the BBC.

Image: BBC World Service

7. Tik Tok myth buster Sophia Smith Galer

Social media has become a breeding ground for viral disinformation, but journalist Sophia Smith Galer has turned its power to her advantage, with news nuggets on TikTok that debunk fake news on everything from the war in Ukraine to abortion rights in her role at Vice News. Her work tackling sexual misinformation is equally urgent and enlightening. Check out her book Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century.

Image: @sleepy_edit
Main image: BBC

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