The Challenges of Debunking COVID-19 Disinformation


John Crowley at the Ethical Journalism Network has interviewed fact-checkers and verification experts to understand the major issues surrounding COVID-19 mis/disinformation.

The article ‘Tacking misinformtion during COVID-19‘ features Eileen Culloty (FuJo and Provenance) along with Alastair Reid (First Draft), Sophie Nicholson (AFP), Tom Phillips (Full Fact); and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Oxford Reuters Institute) among others.

In her contribution, Eileen Culloty noted that:

“The key knowledge gap surrounds the responsible reporting of disinformation and rumours. … Just because a piece of disinformation has been identified, it doesn’t mean it needs to be reported immediately if at all. Specific scenarios will vary, but prior to publishing journalists could consider whether the disinformation actually merits more exposure through a debunk and whether it’s more beneficial to reinforce the correct information rather than highlight the disinformation.”

Other contributions disuss key issues of trust, verification skills, and the response of the platforms.

In addition to the work of leading fact-checking and verification organisations, the Provenance project led by DCU FuJo is highlighted for its work on helping the public evaluate online information.