Rapid response project of the Social Media Lab

Social Media Lab Releases New Census of COVID-19 Fact-checkers from Around the World

As a second wave of COVID-19 infection looms, the ongoing global pandemic is acting as an accelerant for all manners of COVID-19 misinformation. To help counter the spread of COVID-19 misinformation online, the Social Media Lab is spearheading an international initiative to study the proliferation of COVID-19 misinformation and map fact-checking activities happening around the world in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Social Media Lab is pleased to announce the release of the new COVID-19 Fact-checkers Dataset, a comprehensive international repository of over 200 active fact-checking groups and organizations that verify COVID-19 related claims. For each of the 216 COVID-19 fact-checkers in the dataset, the Lab collected 16 different data points, such as the group’s organizational structure, their funding model and rating system, the type of coverage they provide and how they fact-check claims.

The dataset was compiled by members of the Social Media Lab and the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). It was created to provide the public with a better understanding of the COVID-19 fact-checking ecosystem and is intended for use by policy makers and others to make data-informed decisions in the fight against COVID-19 misinformation. 

There are parts of the world where COVID-19 misinformation is running rampant, but there are not enough fact-checkers on the ground, ” said Philip Mai, Social Media Lab’s Director of Business and Communications. “The data can help public health officials and funders to identify gaps and direct resources to where they are most needed.”

This release also includes a data visualization called “Facts about COVID-19 Fact-checkers” featuring highlights from the new COVID-19 Fact-Checkers Dataset. The visualization is interactive, and users can click on various attributes to further explore the data. The visualization can help to answer a wide range of questions including:

  • What country has the most for-profit fact-checkers?
    • Answer: India
  • What are the top three most popular languages for fact-checking?
    • Answer: English, Spanish and French.
  • What continent has the most fact-checkers based at media organizations? 
    • Answer: Europe
  • What are the most popular dissemination methods for fact-checkers to get their debunked claims out to the world?
    • Answer: Web and social media are the most popular dissemination methods

About the Social Media Lab

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Social Media Lab is a multi- and interdisciplinary research laboratory at Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). The lab studies how social media is changing the way people and organizations communicate, share information, conduct business and form communities online, and how these changes impact society. The lab’s research seeks to advance the public’s understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of social media adoption.

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