Misinformation and where to find it

edited by Marco Nurra


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  • Treat the problem not just the symptom. “Rebuilding trust in media is a difficult and delicate process that cannot be quickly solved by any app or tool.” […] “Newsrooms need urgent change if they are to remain relevant to the diverse public they hope to serve,” according to Tom Trewinnard.
  • No, Russian agents are not behind every piece of fake news you see. One of the themes that has emerged during the controversy over “fake news” and its role in the election of Donald Trump is the idea that Russian agents of various kinds helped hack the process by fueling this barrage of false news. But is that really true? In a recent story, The Washington Post says that this is definitely the case, based on information provided by two groups of what the paper calls “independent researchers.” But the case starts to come apart at the seams the more you look at it. One group is associated with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank funded and staffed by proponents of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, which says it has been researching Russian propaganda since 2014. The second group is something called PropOrNot, about which very little is known. Its website doesn’t name anyone who is associated with it, not even the researchers who worked on the report.
  • Trump’s presidential hires and advisors own a hell of a lot of fake news sites. Some of the biggest fake news providers were run by experienced political operators well within the orbit of Donald Trump’s political advisers and consultants.
  • Reddit’s CEO regrets trolling Trump supporters by secretly editing their posts. Steve Huffman, also a Reddit co-founder, landed in hot water Wednesday after admitting that he used his administrative powers to secretly edit user comments that were critical of him on r/The_Donald — a popular, pro-Trump forum (or “subreddit”). He swapped all mentions of his own username with the names of the pro-Trump group’s leaders, meaning that expletive-laden posts aimed at him looked instead as if they were insulting the group’s leaders. It was not a good idea, he told The Washington Post Friday by phone. “I abused my power to give the bullies a hard time,” he said. Huffman thought of his name-swapping as a joke: a way to poke back at the people who’ve been harassing him and some of the site’s volunteer moderators for months. Even Reddit users that don’t support Trump have criticized Huffman. “It’s wrong and totally unprofessional. It’s going to zap any trust people have with the organization.”
  • How an algorithm might detect fake news. When people are discussing the truth or falsity of news, and the responsibility of sites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to help identify it, they somehow think that determining “truth” or “falsity” is something that only humans can do. But according to Tim O’Reilly, “there are many signals of likely truth or falsity that can be verified algorithmically by a computer, often more quickly and thoroughly than they can be verified by humans.” […] “The essence of algorithm design is not to eliminate all error, but to make results robust in the face of error.”
  • Do we really want Facebook exercising this sort of top-down power to determine what is true or false? Wouldn’t we be revolted if one company owned all the newsstands and decided what was proper and improper reading fare? Once established to crush fake news, the Facebook mechanism could be repurposed to crush other types of information that might cause moral panic. This cure for fake news is worse than the disease,” according to Jack Shafer.

International Journalism Festival is the biggest annual media event in Europe. It’s an open invitation to interact with the best of world journalism. All sessions are free entry for all attendees, all venues are situated in the stunning setting of the historic town centre of Perugia.

⚡ ijf weekly roundup

International Journalism Festival is the biggest annual media event in Europe. It's an open invitation to interact with the best of world journalism. All sessions are free entry for all attendees. Come and join us!

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International Journalism Festival #ijf20 | 14th edition | 1–5 April 2020 | Watch #ijf19 on-demand: media.journalismfestival.com

⚡ ijf weekly roundup

International Journalism Festival is the biggest annual media event in Europe. It's an open invitation to interact with the best of world journalism. All sessions are free entry for all attendees. Come and join us!