Handbooks & Guides

Verification Handbook For Disinformation And Media Manipulation (European Journalism Centre)

he latest edition of the Verification Handbook arrives at a critical moment. Today’s information environment is more chaotic and easier to manipulate than ever before. This book equips journalists with the knowledge to investigate social media accounts, bots, private messaging apps, information operations, deep fakes, as well as other forms of disinformation and media manipulation. The first resource of its kind, it builds on the first edition of the Verification Handbook and the Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting. The book is published by the European Journalism Centre and supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

Verification Handbook (Book)

Authored by leading journalists from the BBC, Storyful, ABC, Digital First Media and other verification experts, the Verification Handbook is a groundbreaking new resource for journalists and aid providers. It provides the tools, techniques and step-by-step guidelines for how to deal with user-generated content (UGC) during emergencies.

Sub-Saharan Africa Disinformation Tracker (Global Partners Digital and partners)

This interactive map seeks to support human rights defenders in Sub-Saharan Africa by tracking and analysing all laws, policies and other government actions on disinformation across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Powered by data and insight from local partners, it provides detailed analysis on all government actions using GPD’s framework for disinformation and human rights. Clicking the filters at the top of the map provides a birds eye view of actions across the region. For a detailed analysis of the state of play at the national level, click a country on the map, or select it from the drop down menu.

Safeguarding Digital Democracy: Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative Roadmap (German Marshall Fund)

Even before a global pandemic hit, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock had advanced for the first time ever to 100 seconds before midnight. The Bulletin cited “information warfare” as a “threat multiplier” that is reducing trust and corrupting the information ecosystem needed for democratic debate.Now the World Health Organization is warning of an “infodemic” of widespread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, and disinformation has already been evident in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. Despite a clear and present danger, it is evident that our institutions are not nearly ready—neither for foreign nor domestic disinformation campaigns.While U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned lawmakers that foreign interference in U.S. elec-tions will continue, the giant platforms that have become the new media gatekeepers—Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and Google/YouTube—have largely been left to choose their own paths. And though the platforms say they want to address election disinformation, their own rules are inconsistently applied and underenforced, leaving it to fact-checkers, journalists, and researchers to expose rule breaking as best they can.

Journalism, ‘Fake News,’ and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training (UNESCO)

To serve as a model curriculum, this handbook is designed to give journalism educators and trainers, along with students of journalism, a framework and lessons to help navigate the issues associated with ‘fake news’. We also hope that it will be a useful guide for practising journalists. It draws together the input of leading international journalism educators, researchers and thinkers who are helping to update journalism method and practice to deal with the challenges of misinformation and disinformation. The lessons are contextual, theoretical and in the case of online verification, extremely practical. Used together as a course, or independently, they can help refresh existing teaching modules or create new offerings. A suggestion of How to use this handbook as a model curriculum follows this introduction.There was debate over the use of the words ‘fake news’ in the title and lessons. ‘Fake news’ is today so much more than a label for false and misleading information, disguised and disseminated as news. It has become an emotional, weaponised term used to undermine and discredit journalism. For this reason, the terms misinformation, disinformation and ‘information disorder’, as suggested by Wardle and Derakhshan, are preferred, but not prescribed.

Fight “Fake News” (UNESCO)

Written by experts in the fight against disinformation, this handbook explores the very nature of journalism with modules on why trust matters; thinking critically about how digital technology and social platforms are conduits of the information disorder; fighting back against disinformation and misinformation through media and information literacy; fact-checking 101; social media verification and combatting online abuse.

This model curriculum is an essential addition to teaching syllabi for all journalism educators, as well as practicing journalists and editors who are interested in information, how we share it and how we use it. It is mission critical that those who practice journalism understand and report on the new threats to trusted information. Political parties, health professionals, business people, scientists, election monitors and others will also find it useful.

“Fake News,” lies, and propaganda: How to sort fact from fiction (University of Michigan)

The universe of “fake news” is much larger than simply false news stories. Some stories may have a nugget of truth, but lack any contextualizing details. They may not include any verifiable facts or sources. Some stories may include basic verifiable facts, but are written using language that is deliberately inflammatory, leaves out pertinent details or only presents one viewpoint. "Fake news" exists within a larger ecosystem of mis- and disinformation.

Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is mistakenly or inadvertently created or spread; the intent is not to deceive. Disinformation is false information that is deliberately created and spread "in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth".

Claire Wardle of FirstDraftNews.com has created the helpful visual image below to help us think about the ecosystem of mis- and disinformation. And as she points out, "it's complicated."

EU Code of Practice on Disinformation

The Code of Practice on disinformation is the first time worldwide that industry has agreed, on a voluntary basis, to self-regulatory standards to fight disinformation. It aims at achieving the objectives set out by the Commission's Communication presented in April 2018 by setting a wide range of commitments, from transparency in political advertising to the closure of fake accounts and demonetization of purveyors of disinformation. It includes an annex identifying best practices that signatories will apply to implement its commitments. The Commission has also published the opinion of the sounding board of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum.

The Code of Practice was signed by the online platforms Facebook, Google and Twitter, Mozilla, as well as by advertisers and parts of the advertising industry in October 2018. Signatories then presented their roadmaps to implementation. Microsoft joined in May 2019, while TikTok became a signatory in June 2020.

The strengthened Code of Practice in 2021 will evolve towards a co-regulatory instrument as outlined in the Digital Services Act.

Disinformation dossier (ECPMF)

People who distrust the media are less likely to access accurate information. They will vote along partisan lines rather than consider the facts. The media are not able to perform their watchdog function and, as argued by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the British House of Commons in its Interim Report, this poses a danger to democracy.

One must be aware that “fake news” accusations can also become a weapon in the hand of authoritarian regimes: a report by Article 19 underlines that world leaders use them to openly attack the media and, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 journalists imprisoned for their work worldwide have been charged with spreading false news: 11% of the 251 journalists detained globally.

A Short Guide to the History of ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: A New International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) Learning Module

‘Fake news’ is not new. In fact, the recorded history of ‘disinformation wars’ dates back to ancient Rome. But the 21st century has seen the weaponization of information on an unprecedented scale. Powerful new technology makes the manipulation and fabrication of content simple, and social networks dramatically amplify falsehoods peddled by anti-democratic governments, populist politicians and dishonest corporate entities.

We now inhabit a world where malicious actors and state propagandists can use ‘computational propaganda,’ ‘sock-puppet networks,’ ‘troll armies,’ and technology that can mimic legitimate news websites and seamlessly manipulate audio and video to impersonate legitimate sources. Then, there are the profiteers making a living from creating fraudulent content for viral distribution on social platforms. Combined, these developments present an unprecedented threat level that sees journalists and their work turned into targets.

The emerging ‘information arms race’ is a big story. But it is important to understand the historical context when examining and reporting on contemporary manifestations of the 21st century phenomenon of ‘information disorder.’

A new resource published by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) – A short guide to the history of 'fake news' and disinformation – plots the evolution of the current crisis on an international timeline, highlighting historic moments stretching from Cleopatra to Cambridge Analytica. We encourage anyone who uses the learning module to augment this timeline with examples from their own country’s history, adding new entries as the crisis – and defensive responses to it – evolve.

A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world (Poynter)

In mid-March 2018, a European Commission high-level group published its final report on misinformation, drawing upon the input of experts from around the world who gathered over several weeks to help the European Union figure out what to do about misinformation.

The report created by the high-level group — announced in November 2017 to help the EU craft policies to address growing concern about misinformation in Europe — contains an inclusive, collaborative approach to addressing misinformation around the world (Disclosure: Poynter attended the meetings as one of the experts).

The report, while imperfect, explicitly recommends not regulating against misinformation — but the EU is only one of many governing bodies that have sought to stem the flow of online misinformation over the past few months.

Spanning from Brazil to South Korea, these efforts raise questions about infringing free speech guarantees and are frequently victims of uncertainty. The muddying of the definition of fake news, the relative reach of which is still being studied, hinders governments’ ability to accomplish anything effective.

In the spirit of this confusion, explained in detail in a Council of Europe report, Poynter has created a guide for existing attempts to legislate against what can broadly be referred to as online misinformation. While not every law contained here relates to misinformation specifically, they’ve all often been wrapped into that broader discussion.

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