Methodology

Myth Detector checks fake news revealed in media by means of open sources. In doing so, researchers follow the webpage’s Code of Conduct and this methodology.

Myth Detector’s Code of Conduct rests on seven fundamental principles. They are: 1. Accuracy; 2. Impartiality; 2. Transparency of Sources; 4. Transparency of Methodology; 5. Correction; 7. Prevention of Discrimination; 8. Transparency of Organization and Financing.

Fact-checking process involves four stages:

  1. Selection
  2. Verification of facts 
  3. Evaluation
  4. Search of information about a source

        1. Selection. The monitoring team of MDF regularly monitors Georgian TV, online, print and social media as well as media outlets created by the Russian government (Sputnik-Georgia, Sputnik-Ossetia, Sputnik-Abkhazia). The monitoring is focused on revealing fake news, anti-Western messages and hate speech. Moreover, audience of Myth Detector can send an allegedly fake material through a special webpage section, Report Fake, and the Facebook page.

Every day, a duty editor of Myth Detector selects materials from the monitoring database, which may be misinformative or manipulative. In selecting such information from media monitoring materials and those sent by audience, the editorial staff of Myth Detector uses the following criteria:

  • How verifiable is the information reported by media/statement made by a source? Is it a fact or an opinion, forecast, hypothesis?
  • Does it involve the manipulation of facts? Does it look like half-truth and cherry-picking of facts? 
  • How significant is an error?
  • How reliable is a source?
  • Has a similar misinformation been spread before and could the information be part of coordinated and targeted campaign?
  • How newsworthy is the story?

       2. Verification of facts. Myth Detector verifies facts through open sources.

First step is to determine whether a story is unbalanced and which source is missing in it. Then, a reliable independent source is sought to check the information. Search is undertaken to find out whether a similar information was published in any other reliable media outlet.

In verifying information, Myth Detector follows MDF’s media and information literacy guidelines:

        3. Evaluation. Based on fact checking results, researchers evaluate types of error:

  • Misinformation – facts are fake or invented; a satirical story is reported as a real fact
  • Manipulation – a story is half-truth, context is distorted, title and visual material do not correspond to the content 

In some cases, researchers evaluate propaganda methods used in a controversial material.

       4. About source. When a source regularly spreads fake news or a media outlet is newly established with its real owner hidden, a researcher seeks additional data about the source. In case of a media outlet, such additional data includes information about owners and funding, which is available from open sources and are verified based on the Transparency Guideline.

In preparing an article, researchers follow a style guide. An article is published after it has been double-checked by the editor.

        5. Identification of Trolls

Trolls are identified based on open sources and primarily on the open data of the suspicious account. Monitoring of trolls is carried out on the basis of analysis of a social media account profile and covers the following aspects: 1. “About me” section of a troll account, personal photos and videos, 2. public comments, posts and behaviour in the timeline. 

To verify whether a social media account is real we additionally use person identification search engines, such as Webmii.com, Pipl. com, People.yandex.ru

In case trolls are using other persons’ photos to make their identity more real and credible, we use photo verification resources, like: images.google.com, Tineye.com, yandex.com/images, Baidu.com.

Correction

Everyone is free to apply to Myth Detector if information checked by us is, in an applicant’s view, inaccurate and to offer corresponding counter arguments. To this end, an applicant must write to us (info@mdfgeorgia.ge) or fill in a complaint form.