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    Five lessons from “Greta has done her Science homework” fact-check - finalist for Global Fact Awards Best Correction 2019

    17.06.2019 Faktabaari EDU

    Five lessons from “Greta has done her Science homework” fact-check - finalist for Global Fact Awards Best Correction 2019

    International Fact-checking Network (IFCN) nominated Faktabaari EDU fact-check Greta Thunberg has done her science homework” 12th of June among the 4 finalists for Best Correction of 2019 Global Fact Awards.  General public was able to cast their vote until Thursday 20th of June. 

    Update 28.6.: The winner to Best Correction after 18 000 votes cast is FactCheck.org (USA) with exemplary fact-check on Facebook.  Their fact-check and overall vote is described at the end of this text and IFCN story.  We want to congratulate FactCheck.org and our fellow great finalists TEMPO (Indonesia) and AfricaCheck.org (South Africa) As the sole fact-checker of the 4 finalist leaning on educative approach, Faktabaari EDU shared the following five lesson of our experiences prior to vote. We hoper they remain inspirational for building links in between fact-checkers and media literacy communities.

    What did we learn on our timely fact-check on Greta Thunberg and the Faktabaari (FactBar) EDU approach for citizens, fact-checkers and educators?

    Below short background and then five first lessons learned from Greta case for fact-checking

    Short background on the “Greta check” and Faktabaari EDU approach:

    February 2019 the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (16) delivered a strong speech in Brussels prior to EU elections. Thunberg teamed up with IPCC science and scientists and encouraged politicians to take urgent action to combat climate change.

    Thunberg said that politicians should listen to scientists and ”follow the Paris agreement and the IPCC reports”.  It contained four science-base claims that lasted a scrutiny of two independent top scientist, while most part of the political context could not be addressed by fact-checks alone. More here.

    Faktabaari EDU supports educators with simple tools and real life case studies to address digital information disorders with their students.  The objective is to foster critical thinking and participation by Identifying, debating and even correcting defective and deceptive information. The practical message at time of  mobile devices and social media is:  “be responsible - think twice before sharing - be part of the solution”. More here.

    1.Greta has done her science homework  - lesson on subject and format of fact-check.

    Our two fact-checking scientists Professors Ollikainen (University of Helsinki) and Breyer (LUT University) credited Greta for giving an accurate summary about the stakes for human kind in a very concise manner. Determined 16 year old school girl with clear message and science base. Based on reception of the fact-check Faktabaari EDU estimates that the fact-check by scientists enforced the credibility of the author and impact of unconvinient but accurate message. Next to the content, the short format of the fact-check with video appealed to our readers.

    2. Greta fact-check empowered both youth and scientists\, while addressing the climate urgency - lesson on positive approach:  Checked items do not need to be false.

    Faktabaari EDU distributed the fact-check in social media and e.g. in twitter with the two hastags gathering 1) youth for school strikes and demonstrations #FridaysForFuture and 2) scientists finding finally a mobilising voice for their long cry for action #ScientistForFuture. Talking simultaneously to the two communities. We observed that the message reached both the “hearts and minds”.Both communities responded by spreading the positive message widely in social media. We were also suggested  that fact-check might have pre-empted doubt on Greta sciencebase without being advocacy.

    The biggest single impact for our check was by Swedish Professor tweet that also Thunberg retweeted. It led to about 2 200 retweets and 5 100 likes by today. Faktabaari is happy to cooperate with independent social media expert to evaluate the final reach that didi not include any paid marketing.

    3. The dialogue between fact-checkers and teachers enabled pedagogical fact-checks - lesson on cooperation between fact-checkers and educators. 

    Cooperation enabled to define subject and claim to be checked within a media literacy project that could choose the cases based on educative goals.  It also built a simplified fact-checking method to reach and empower youth and simplify FC methodology.

    Faktabaari fact-checkers and EDU teachers met several times to adapt the methodology to inspire critical thinking and participation. All agreed  on the special relevance of the climate and environment thematic to next generations. Together we were able to simplify the approach for fact-checking for school use. The project needed time and facilitation in between the culturally different communities.

    Related funding for education might be better available for fact-checkers than for pure fact-checking while our case demonstrates that these work well together if lesson on overcoming cultural differences hold.  

    4. Pedagogical fact-checks benefit support material - lesson for potential to adapt fact-checking for media education needs.

    Well titled and documented Greta case enabled us to demonstrate not just the case but the role of science and  fact-checking approach as an antidote to different types of timely “information disorders” with topic of interest to youth.

    The clear headline message and video recording in several languages on “homeworks done” and accurate claims helped to understand the message.  Fact-check potentially also protected Greta and her “followers” of not being discredited more on defective prophecies as might happen when the message is not well received. Especially recently even deceptive disinformation has been spread on Greta that was fact-checked by Correctiv.  

    Next to simple and transparent fact-check format, the fact-check explained also what fact-checking can and cannot cover. Faktabaari EDU also encourages to design long lasting factcheck format to resist time and explain how it is done. Ewe argue that sometimes the process is more interesting than the story itself. Greta fact-check is practically timely at least every #FridayForFuture as long as eems to stay quite stable.

    5. Greta fact-check had direct and indirect\, quantitative and qualitative long-term outreach and impact and helps further develop Faktabaari EDU approach - lesson to maximise fact-check outreach and build a parallel EDU function.

    Greta fact-check had direct and indirect, quantitative and qualitative long-term outreach and impact as long as both the fact checking process and the substance was adequately addressed.  

    As said there is no systematic research yet on how big an audience the fact-check reached via our primary distribution channel social media (mainly twitter and facebook) nor the qualitative impact in classrooms. However, the above mentioned tweet and other observations suggest that we can talk of global reach and major potential of pedagogic fact-checks that should be analysed among fact-checkers for wider impact and even business models.

    Moreover our approach potentially inspired much bigger media such as well respected Science magazine that 21st of April endorsed Greta message. Bit later some big media like BBC checked Greta claims in regards UK. Finally fellow fact-checker Corrective explained the disinformation side to the case while Newsmaeven #Femfacts project evaluated especially the role of Greta being young and woman.

    In sum, the impact of our outreach remains partly anecdotal based on the analysis above. However, important theme, empowering content and approach that triggers critical thinking and participation using best fact-checking and media literacy practices seems to have many angles for impact. Faktabaari EDU approach keeps exploring also the potential in view of European fact-checkers financial sustainability as the combination of fact-checking and critical thinking skills has been tabled in many EU documents for policy and funding. We encourage also to seek inspiration from many Chequado and IFCN coordinated #EduCheckMap projects.

    The final words on need of facts to the Greta Thunberg herself when commenting the “school strike” method of her advocacy namely putting pressure to politicians to listen to youth and scientists.

    “…What is the point in learning facts in the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of the same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and societies…”

    Greta passed her science homeworks and her activism seems to mobilise both “minds and hearts”. her statements merit of being critically fact-checked for educational purposes as she has proved to use her facts wisely and inspire youth. 


    Best Correction of 2019 Global Fact Awards results (updated 28.6.)_

    The 2019 Best Correction for Global Fact Award based on open public internet vote in between 4 finalist (see table) chosen by expert panel was: 

    “Facebook Not Giving Kochs User Data” By Angelo Fichera from FactCheck.org with 31,7% of the votes.

    Greta Thunberg has done her Science homework” by Faktabaari EDU gained 17,3% of all votes totalling about 3100 votes.


    Finalists for Best Correction Global Fact Award 2019
    Here are also the links to above mentioned AfricaCheck and Tempo fact-checks. In time of publication we did not have the percentages of these 2 candidates.

    Finally around 18000 responses were recorded by google survey type of vote. The voting method cannot be considered very reliable but sufficient for the purpose to engage for quality fact-checking.

    More information about the competition and the winners of the 3 award categories by IFCN.

    Faktabaari wants to congratulate all the participants of Global Fact Awards and thank IFCN for organising an engaging competition to give visibility to transparent quality fact-checking.

    More information:

    mikko.salo@faktabaari.fi / toimitus@faktabaari.fi

    In English FactBar EDU and twitter
    Suomeksi Faktabaari EDU, twitter ja facebook


    The blog was updated 28.6. to include the last chapter on results and slight update on the formulations of the text to sustain time after the competition. _



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