Fact Checkers Take Stock of Their Efforts: ‘It’s Not Getting Better’


This article explores the current state of fact-checking and its impact on misinformation.

After President Biden’s election, a significant portion of Americans believed in the false narrative that his victory was fraudulent. Despite extensive efforts by fact-checkers to debunk such claims, recent polls suggest that misinformation still has a strong hold, with many continuing to believe in false narratives.

The global fact-checking community is reflecting on its effectiveness, especially with numerous elections scheduled in the coming year. The number of fact-checking operations has stagnated, and there is a growing concern about the diminishing interest of social networking companies in combating misinformation. Fact-checkers are facing increased harassment and threats, and the environment is becoming more distrustful and polarized. Tai Nalon, a journalist who runs a Brazilian fact-checking company, Aos Fatos, remarked, “It’s not getting better,” highlighting the challenges faced by fact-checkers in navigating disinformation and online harassment.

The article also discusses the role of social media platforms in the fight against misinformation. Platforms like Facebook and TikTok have initiated collaborations with fact-checking operations, but the momentum seems to be slowing down. The effectiveness of these collaborations is also questioned, with some studies suggesting that users continue to engage with anti-vaccine content despite content deletion policies. The article raises concerns about the potential reduction in support from tech companies to fact-checking organizations, which could significantly impact the industry.

The article also touches on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in fact-checking. AI has the potential to quickly parse through vast amounts of information and identify false information, but it also has a shaky track record with truth. The article mentions a test conducted on ChatGPT by PolitiFact, where the AI made mistakes or arrived at different conclusions from human fact-checkers in half of the tested claims.

Despite the challenges, there is hope that society will adapt and continue to value accuracy. The article concludes with a note of optimism, stating that misinformation during the 2022 midterm elections was less toxic than feared, thanks to media literacy efforts and training.

In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and developments in the field of fact-checking and its ongoing battle against misinformation and false narratives.

Hsu, Tiffany. “Fact Checkers Take Stock of Their Efforts: ‘It’s Not Getting Better’.” The New York Times, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/29/business/media/fact-checkers-misinformation.html.


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