FactBarEDU goes international

During the past weeks, FactBarEdu has been active on many fronts.

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has developed a Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC), to be adapted for use throughout primary and secondary schools as well as higher education and vocational training institutions across Europe.

In May 2020, the Council of Europe Education Department launched a new activity which aims to make the RFCDC practically usable in member States both in the current situation and in the post-COVID19 time. A small team was set up to prepare easy-to-use materials. The team includes academic experts, teacher trainers and education practitioners. Kari Kivinen from Faktabaari was invited to become a member of this group to undertake the developments of the materials, which will be published in autumn 2020 in under Digital Citizenship Programme of Council of Europe in their site.

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Global Fact 7conference

In June, FactBarEdu presented its information literacy approach in the Global Fact 7 conference – the largest annual conference of fact-checkers. You can watch the recorded version of the webinar here.

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Teaching Citizenship Journal

The UK Teaching Citizenship Journal Issue 51 (page 31) is dedicated to teaching critical media literacy and citizenship in a digital age. It was published at the beginning of July and distributed to all public secondary schools in the UK.

Faktabaari’s Kari Kivinen and Elsa Kivinen wrote an article on how to protect ourselves from the infodemic. You can read the article below.

ACT TEACHING CITIZENSHIP JOURNAL, Issue 51, July 2020, Pages 31-32

How to protect ourselves from infodemic?

by Elsa Kivinen & Kari Kivinen

“Facing the coronavirus, we must cultivate the best of ourselves and rely on science and education, verify any information and share knowledge.”  
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General 

We have all heard instructions telling us how to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the past months, we have learned to wash our hands, cover our coughs and sneezes, and avoid close physical contacts with others. But do you know how to protect yourself from infodemic – information epidemic or an overwhelming flood of information?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an infodemic can be defined “an overabundance of information – some of which is accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that “our enemy is also the growing surge of misinformation”.

While the coronavirus has spread into nearly every country on earth, there has also been mass circulation of falsehoods that have spread as fast as the virus itself.

The English term ‘fake news’ is widely used to speak of false news. Unfortunately, it is not a very precise term. It is better to use terms that describe what type of false information people are talking about. Misleading information can be divided into three different categories:

1)   Misinformation refers to unintentionally incorrect communication. **The writers do not know that they said something wrong or wrong.
Misrepresentation is purely by mistake or negligence, without willful intent or attempt to cause harm.

**2)    Disinformation **means intentionally misleading and misleading communications with the purpose of causing harm or harm to a person, community,
group of people or government.
3)   Malinformation is spoken of when truthful information is used intentionally to harm an individual, community, or state, contrary to the agreed uses of the information. This is often truthful information that is shared illegally, maliciously, or with the intent of knowingly causing harm and harm. Malinformation is closely linked with hate speech.

Based on a machine learning analysis of 112 million public social media posts in March 2020, in 64 languages, related to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at the Bruno Kessler Foundation found 40% of posts came from unreliable sources (UNESCO 2020a).

The fact-checkers all around the globe have been fighting against mis- and disinformation. The CoronaVirusFacts / DatosCoronaVirus Alliance database already contains more than 7.000 coronavirus fact scans.

In January, we asked 123 teenagers aged between 13 and 18 years, all studying in the French Finnish school of Helsinki, whether they had encountered any suspicious piece of news. The results showed 73 % of the students were familiar with the phenomena – and nobody really wanted to get fooled.  Most of them also said they get most of the news updates from social media, including Youtube.

Together with the teachers of the school as well as with Finnish fact-checking experts of Faktabaari we have collected some recommendations which could help you to distinguish information from disinformation. 

If you come across a strange statement or claim, take a moment to critically reflect the following aspects:

 ● Who has produced this information and with what expertise**?**
    o   Can you find the writers’ names or a reliable web address?
    o   When and where has the information been published? Is it still up to date?   
    o   What viewpoint does the source represent (that of a journalist, researcher, policymaker, a public authority, lobbyist, what is the political leaning?)

●  Why is it made? What are the motives of the disseminator?
    o   Is it an advertisement, a piece of news or someone’s opinion?
    o   Does anyone benefit from this? Is it sponsored by someone? 
    o   To whom it is targeted. How did you get it?

●  Does the message aim to elicit a strong emotional response?
    o   Are there strong story elements attached to the message?
    o   Are there striking images in the message? Are the pictures authentic, untouched and unmanipulated?

●  Can you verify the information from another source known to be reliable?

Social media constantly prompts us to make choices: should I click, like, share or comment? In a digital world, critical thinking requires reflection, ability to resist your impulses, as well as resilience to mis- and dis-information.  Do not believe everything you see and be careful when sharing information if you have not verified It.

It is relatively easy to make a quick fact-check if you have got access to an internet connection. Here are some useful hints and links:

1)  Fact-proof the claim by trying to find different sources which could confirm the facts.

2)  Use several search engines and avoid using Wikipediaor any other single source as the only source of information. There are several rather reliable academic search engines available (see the INFO BOX)

3)  Check the domain owner information from e.g. WHOIS-service (https://www.whois.com/) 

4)   Verify the authenticity of the images by using e.g.
      Google reverse image search.
    o   First Draft has an excellent  toolbox to help you to verify images, links and videos(https://start.me/p/vjv80b/first-draft-basic-toolkit)
    o   Check also the free verification tools offered by InVid (https://www.invid-project.eu/) 

5)  Check if the fact-checking organisations have  already examined the case  (e.g. https://fullfact.org/ , https://factcheckni.org/, https://theferret.scot/fact-check/)

6)  Trust scientific facts, not mere opinions!

The internet and social media are overloaded by information on every imaginable subject. It is a real challenge for us all to find, select, use and share the most reliable information. If we are conscious and sensible social media users, equipped with a healthy critical thinking approach, we can avoid getting fooled. On top of this, this helps us to protect ourselves and our friends from an infodemic!


Academic search engines

•      Refseek  - academic search engine for students and researchers. http://www.refseek.com/
•      Plos - peer-reviewed articles are free to access\, reuse and redistribute https://www.plos.org/
•      Google Scholar -  academic articles - not all of them will give you access to the full text https://scholar.google.co.uk/
•      DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) https://doaj.org/
•      Europe PMC is an open science platform that enables access to a worldwide collection of life science publications and preprints from trusted
sources around the globe http://europepmc.org/
•      Public Library e-resources - Join your local public library and find out what online resources they have for you to access

Read more

Bruno Kessler Foundation 2020, https://www.fbk.eu/en/press-releases/covid-19-and-fake-news-in-the-social-media/

Journalism, press freedom and COVID-19, UNESCO, 2020a, https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/unesco_covid_brief_en.pdf

DISINFODEMIC, Deciphering COVID-19 disinformation, UNESCO, 2020b, https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/disinfodemic_deciphering_covid19_disinformation.pdf

Infodemics Observatory, 2020, https://covid19obs.fbk.eu/

Faktabaari, https://faktabaari.fi

The CoronaVirusFacts/ DatosCoronaVirus Alliance database, https://www.poynter.org/ifcn-covid-19-misinformation/



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