by Mehmet Atakan Foça
As you know, every analysis published on teyit.org presents the result of the analysis directly to the user. The colour box at the top of the analysis page indicates whether the claim is true, false, mixed or uncertain.
We do not use click baits when sharing our contents on social media. Thus, the user does not have to click on the link to see the result of the claim. However, this leads many of our users to not deeming necessary to click on the link to read the whole analysis.
Many of our users clicking on the analysis leave teyit.org without reading the whole article. In the last year, we realised that there are users among our followers who do not click on the links, and users who do not read the whole article even if they clicked on the links. Most striking fact for us was that even users who do read the whole article do not click on the links provided within the article.
And we came to realise that, this behaviour leads users to consider teyit.org as an expert, a referee, or an authority on truth.
There are many links within every analysis published on teyit.org. These links embedded in the text are the evidence leading us to the result of the claim. For instance, when teyit.org tags a claim as false, this result is reached through true, reliable evidence that verify each other.
As such, on the contrary to what many Internet users believe, teyit.org acts as a medium pointing to the sources leading to the correct information, rather than an expert asserting the information is correct.
Due to our transparency policy and to allow our users to re-check, the evidence we use to define a claim as true or false used to be embedded as links within the article.
However, we came to realise that there are some issues with this method:
1- Mobile use
First of these issues is about our habit of reading on mobile devices. When we use our smart phones to read a text, notifications, calls, and incompatible elements on web sites can easily distract us.
Such are the links embedded in texts. When reading a text on a mobile device, the link of th reference you tap on either takes you to a page other than the one you are reading the text on, and makes you tap the back button many times, or opens a new tab. And this is as distracting as other elements.
2- Losing link descriptions
Another issue is that the content of the links we embed in the text are not visible. When you hoover on a link on desktop your web browser shows the link you are about to go to with an alert on the left bottom corner of the page.
Links in analyses on teyit.org are shared with a new link created via teyit.link as a precaution to deletion or changes. These new and shorter links lose the description within the archived links and replace them with its own unique codes (for instance teyit.link/nZVT3Ny instead of haber7.com/abdli-gazeteci-trumpa-kufur-yagdirdi-suriye). And since clicking on unknown links is intimidating for users due to risks of being hacked, these links become useless.
3- Differences between redirections on news sites
In the last few years, the willingness of content-producing sites to be on top of Google searches led to an increase on search engine optimisation efforts. These efforts resulted in news sites abandoning their habit of giving links in their contents to redirect the user to another site.
For instance, a link on the word lifestyle within a news article on Hürriyet will take you to a page on hurriyet.com.tr with stories on Lifestyle. This made users to consider links given in the contents as click baits, rather than references. This habit fostered by news sites is destructive for web sites like teyit.org, which links to references and other sites to take you to a journey on the web.
How do we change this?
As of today, you will be able to find the sources included in the analysis on the column to the right of the teyit.org analysis. Even if you do not click on any link, a reliable information and documentation guide allowing us to tag the claim as true or false, will be right next to the article. When you use mobile devices to view the analyses, you will find this list at the end of the articles.
With this change, we aim to show that the true or false decision is not made by an expert from teyit.org, and that this decision can be reached through open sources and documents on web. Also, we hope to simplify navigation through the evidence we use. Our followers will be able to see the information within each link, instead of having to try each link given in the analysis one by one.
We will keep the evidence links within the articles for a little while more. The source list of an analysis will redirect you to the original links to our evidence, and the links embedded in the text will be maintained with teyit.link versions showing you how we saw a certain page on the date we accessed it. This method is still essential for us to keep our evidence without any change and getting lost.
Mehmet Atakan Foça is editor-in-chief of verification platform teyit.org.
Translation: Emek Akman