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Letter sent on May 4, 2017

Highlights of our CrossCheck work

Hello Everyone,

CrossCheck is a collaborative verification project launched by First Draft and Google News Lab. The goal of the project is to combat rumors circulating on the Internet in relation to the French Presidential election.

With just a few days left until the second round of voting, we’re proud to highlight some of the work that CrossCheck has done since its launch at the end of February. With 37 media partners involved across several countries, the CrossCheck team has been hard at work monitoring the web for misinformation on election topics as well as the candidates hoping to be the next inhabitant of the Elysee Palace. You can, of course, catch up with CrossCheck all the way through to May 7th via our website, Facebook, Twitter and, of course, our partners’ platforms.

After reading these stories, take our second quiz to see if you’re a CrossCheck expert.

Behind the Scenes of a CrossCheck

Debunking the “Is the Paris town hall replacing a Paris lighthouse with social housing for migrants?” story.

On April 25th, 2017, the Facebook page “On aime la France” (we love France) shared a post claiming Emmanuel Macron planned to push forward with Turkey’s membership of the European Union (EU). Within the current political context — the attempted military coup back in July 2016, and the presidential referendum on April 16th — CrossCheck’s followers started to wonder. Did En Marche’s candidate really propose pushing forward with Turkey’s bid to become a member of the EU?

Let’s have a look at the steps the CrossCheck team took to work out if this was true or not.

Analyse the original source of the information

On aime la France Facebook page often publishes anti-immigration, Islamophobic and racist content. The page also frequently shares unverified and unreliable information.

Proceed with several lines of inquiry:

What does Emmanuel Macron’s manifesto say?

Several journalists taking part in CrossCheck looked to see if such a policy existed in Emmanuel Macron’s manifesto. Turkey is not even mentioned in the document.

What’s going on in the campaign and in the world?

Much of the dubious information that CrossCheck has debunked since the beginning of the presidential campaign in France often echoes political and international events. Macron’s alleged declaration on Turkey joining the EU was posted on On aime la France nine days after the referendum in Turkey that extended the Turkish President’s power.

What has Macron said in public?

The day after the Turkish referendum, April 17th, Emmanuel Macron gave an interview to the news channel BFMTV. Asked to comment on the status of negotiations between Ankara and Brussels, the candidate said there would be no “going forward” in these discussions if he were to be elected president.

Completing a fact-check form: Who, What, Where, When, Why

These five questions are the basis of our verification process. When resolved, and the answer to our question is found, additional sources can help CrossCheck’s teams write their stories. In this case:

  • Who: On aime la France, a Facebook page affiliated to the Front National, shares unverified and unreliable information. Its timeline is filled with racist, Islamophobic, and eurosceptic content.
  • What: Emmanuel Macron stating talks on Turkey’s membership to the EU should advance.
  • Where: European Union
  • When: 25 April 2017
  • Why: On aime la France’s Facebook page is open about its proximity to the National Front. Marine Le Pen is in favor of an immigration ban and closing borders. The internet page, therefore, seems to be trying to discredit Emmanuel Macron, who she’ll be facing in the 2nd round on Sunday, May 7th. By putting forward Macron’s European vision, On aime la France tries to play off the two candidates.
  • Original article: Facebook (The post was taken down from the Facebook page when CrossCheck published their story.)

CrossChecking with our newsroom partners

Once the fact-check form is completed it is shared with several newsrooms. This is in order to transparently allow our partners to verify each section through collaboration to be certain that the investigation is complete and fully reliable.

Writing the article for publication

CrossCheck always tries to highlight the kind of misinformation : was the story misleading? Was it misreported? Was it manipulated ?

In this case, after our investigations, it became clear that Macron does not advocate for pushing forward with Turkey’s bid to join the EU. We labeled this story as “fake” — with the newsrooms taking part to the investigation adding an important caveat: it is impossible to know for sure what Emmanuel Macron’s opinion on Turkey’s membership to the EU is. His comments in the interview with BFMTV may as well be a reaction to the results of the referendum in Turkey and the increased power vested in the presidential regime there from 2019.

Once written, the story is edited by another journalist and validated by the AFP. It is then published on Crosscheck’s website as well as all of our social networks and made open for publication to all CrossCheck partners.

Read the full article now that you’ve gone “behind the scenes.”

CrossCheck will continue until the second round of the elections. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, our website, or through our partners.

And don’t hesitate to contact us if you’ve a story you’re not sure about!

The CrossCheck Team