Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria

Organization: Factcheck.bg
Applicant: Kristina Hristova
Assessor: Tsvetelina Sokolova

Background

Factcheck.bg has been increasingly recognized by journalists, opinion leaders, experts and the general public as a platform for verifying the facts in Bulgaria. Its efforts are mainly focused towards fighting targeted disinformation campaigns by debunking viral false claims in social networks. Factcheck.bg works within a heated and polarized political environment. Bulgaria is considered to be a flawed democracy according to the Democracy Index 2021 of the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a financially stable but a low income member of the EU with significant problems concerning the rule of law and corruption. 2021 and 2022 are time of great political turmoil with three parliamentary elections and unstable new reformist government. The media environment has been deteriorating for the last decade. However, examples of influential high quality journalism in the country still exist. 

Assessment Conclusion

Factcheck.bg is a professional and high quality Bulgarian fact-checking platform which generally adheres to the IFCN Code of Principles. It is transparent about its legal status, its organizational structure, its funding, the methodology of selection and evaluations of the claims that it fact-checks and about its corrections policy. The strongest point of the platform is the in-depth inquiry that accompanies each claim that has been selected for fact-checking. The platform uses appropriate sources and evaluates the evidence in an unbiased manner. What the platform needs to further improve is the selection process. It could think about expanding its thematic scope beyond Russian/proRussian targeted disinformation campaigns which are at the moment its primary focus. For example, the fact-checks could touch more of the pressing political, social and economic issues of the contemporary Bulgarian public sphere. To my view, a fair share of ‘true’ claims will make the selection process more balanced. I would also recommend that the platform includes more diverse group of political speakers in its new rubric “PolitiCheck”. Generally speaking, Factcheck.bg is currently the most promising Bulgarian fact-checking platform and is compliant to the IFCN Code of Principles. 
on 29-Jun-2022 (3 months ago)

Tsvetelina Sokolova assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

Factcheck.bg е професионална и висококачествена българска платформа за проверка на факти, която като цяло се придържа към Кодекса на принципите на IFCN. Платформата е прозрачна относно правния си статут, организационната си структура, финансирането, методологията на подбор и оценка на твърденията, които проверява, както и относно политиката си за корекции. Най-силната страна на Factcheck.bg е задълбоченото проучване, което съпътства всяко твърдение, избрано за проверка на фактите. Платформата използва подходящи източници и оценява доказателствата по безпристрастен начин. Това, което Factcheck.bg може да подобри, е процесът на подбор на твърденията за проверка. Може да се помисли например за разширяване на тематичния обхват на проверките отвъд руските/проруските насочени дезинформационни кампании, които в момента са основният фокус на платформата. Проверките на факти биха могли да засягат повече от наболелите политически, социални и икономически проблеми, присъстващи в българската публична сфера. Процесът на подбор ще бъде по-балансиран и ако бъдат включени повече "верни" твърдения. Бих препоръчала също така платформата да включи по-разнообразна група политически говорители в новата си рубрика „PolitiCheck“. Най-общо казано, Factcheck.bg в момента е най-обещаващата българска платформа за проверка на факти и е в съответствие с Кодекса на принципите на IFCN.

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Factcheck.bg is the only platform in Bulgaria dedicated solely to fact-checking, an initiative of the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria (AEJ). 

https://factcheck.bg/en/who-we-are/

AEJ is an NGO registered in Sofia in 2010, the independent Bulgarian branch of a European-wide journalist's assocation which publically advocates on issues of importance to professional journalism and information integrity. 

Please see the attached copy of the legal registration of AEJ-Bulgaria.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf AEJ.Bulgaria.registr... (69 KB)
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg is a distinct team within a legally registered nonprofit organization (Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria) which supports professional journalism. Factcheck.bg is set up for the purpose of fact-checking and regularly publishes non-partisan reports on the factual accuracy of statements by public figures and prominent institutions or widely circulated claims related to public interest issues. Factcheck.bg clearly indicates on its website its status and its relation to AEJ-Bulgaria.


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?

Factcheck.bg started in May 2021 as part of the long-term strategy of AEJ-Bulgaria to improve professional journalism standards and the information environment in Bulgaria. The quantity of mis- and dis-information in Bulgarian media and social media has already surpassed critical levels. Few countries in Europe are effected by the infodemic so adversely. As a partial illustration of the impact of the scarcity of high-quality information, Bulgaria’s vaccination rate is the lowest in the EU (26%) and death rates per capita from COVID are among the highest in the world.

2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?

The team of Factcheck.bg currently includes nine people: one editor, four journalists, one database expert, one social media manager, one project manager and one partnership coordinator. All work at Factcheck.bg on a part-time basis (see https://factcheck.bg/en/team). We receive additional support from a temporary development advisor (unpaid), one trainee and external journalists from media partners who also contribute content occasionally.

3. What different activities does your organization carry out?

Before the site was launched, AEJ-Bulgaria developed a fact-checking methodology and published a handbook to educate journalists and others about fact-checking and how to conduct independent fact checks (https://factcheck.bg/resources/). AEJ has also designed and conducted fact-checking trainings both in person and online, open to the public, for both individuals and organizations. AEJ organized an open and transparent competition for applicants to join the Factcheck.bg team 

Beside fact-checking, Factcheck.bg organizes regular trainings for journalists, students, activists and others, as well as competitions to promote fact-checking and find new contributors. We are also currently developing a program to train scientists and collaborate on fact-checking.

4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

- Grow the community of experts to contribute expertise to our fact checks. 

- Expand the size and sustainability of project finances in order to create full-time permanent staff positions dedicated only to the organization.

- Increase impact by enlarging the capacity and scope of fact-checking operations.

- Increase our capacity to produce more articles.

- Through public engagement and social media, popularize fact-checking and public recognition of the organization and its work.  

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The team of Factcheck.bg is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.

Factcheck.bg has been increasingly recognized by journalists, opinion leaders, experts and the general public as a platform for verifying the facts in Bulgaria. Its efforts are mainly focused towards fighting targeted disinformation campaigns by debunking viral false claims in social networks. For the moment it has been covering comparatively limited number of issues which are on the top the political agenda of EU institutions – Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the Russian influence in Bulgaria, the European Green Deal and its relation to climate change and energy policy. There are less publications concerning specific national political issues, or economic, social and local issues.

Factcheck.bg works within a heated and polarized political environment. Bulgaria is considered to be a flawed democracy according to the Democracy Index 2021 of the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a financially stable but a low income member of the EU with significant problems concerning the rule of law and corruption. 2021 and 2022 are times of great political turmoil with three parliamentary elections and unstable new reformist government. The media environment has been deteriorating for the last decade. However, examples of influential high quality journalism in the country still exist. 


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Factcheck.bg has published a total of 53 fact checks since May 2021, including 31 verifications of individual published claims, 13 articles debunking disinformation campaigns and 9 larger indepth features differentiating fact from fiction in broader topics of significant public interest. Most articles are written in Bulgarian but not all have been translated into English. 

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg published at least one fact-check per week in the reference period. Its publishing activity has been considerably improved in volume for the last six months. Factcheck.bg uses three main distinct fact-checking formats – debunking disinformation campaigns; explaining the facts about a grand issue like the European foreign policy, for example; and fact-checking individual claims. 


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

A sample of 31 random publications of Factcheck.bg in the assessment period shows that all of them fully comply with the requirement for dealing with issues of public interest. The prevailing focus of the fact-checking publications is the war in Ukraine (after February 2022) and the Covid-19 pandemic (before February 2022). 


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Staffed by independent media professionals, Factcheck.bg has no personal or institutional relations with any individuals, institutions or political entities covered in Bulgaria or any other countries.

Or policy and funding is clearly stated here:  https://factcheck.bg/en/transparency-of-funding/

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Transparency of Funding

Our funders play no role in our fact-checking process. Staffed by independent media professionals, Factcheck.bg has no personal or institutional relations with any individuals, institutions or political entities covered in Bulgaria or other countries. Please read about our editorial independence.

Small Grants Program of the U.S. Embassy

Factcheck.bg received support from the U.S. Embassy Sofia Small Grants Program for fact-checking trainings for journalists, students and activists from January - November 2021. The support also covered the organization of a fact-checking competition on the topic: “Human Rights as a Target of Disinformation Campaigns.” The U.S. Embassy plays no role in any of these activities – editorial, supervisory or otherwise – and they are entirely managed and implemented by Factcheck.bg.

European Parliament contract

From May - September 2021, Factcheck.bg implemented the project "DetecDisinfoNet" with funding provided by the European Parliament. The objective was to fund the production and publication of fact-checking on European-wide topics including the pandemic, energy, human rights and foreign policy. All the fact checks published under this grant are clearly marked as such and the European Parliament played no role beyond funding. The editor of Factcheck.bg examines every story assignment for potential conflicts of interest and takes full responsibility for the choice of topics and how they are fact-checked.

Active Citizens Fund

In October 2021 Factcheck.bg started a new project to cultivate a community of scientist fact-checkers and collaborate with Factcheck.bg and its team of journalists. The project is supported by the Active Citizens Fund [ACF] in Bulgaria. Funded by donors Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and administered by the Open Society Institute - Sofia, the goal of the ACF is to foster civil society development. The grant includes developing a methodology for scientific fact-checking; setting up a system to coordinate fact-checking collaborations between scientists and journalists; fact-checking training for scientists; and the production of fact checks to be published on the site. The project ends in October 2023.


Editorial Independence

The same impartiality applies to relations with our funders. Our sponsors share our concern for information integrity and we are grateful that they support our approach. Yet funders play no role in the choice of claims we check or how they are verified and have no influence over how we work. Factcheck.bg alone has full responsibility for all editorial decisions. The team verifies every claim equally - regardless of whether or not they may overlap or conflict with the interests of our funders.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg does not receive any funding from the Bulgarian state nor is in any way connected to political parties in the country. The platform is transparent about its funding. Information about the foreign donors of the platform is available on its website, although the amounts of the funding have not been mentioned. Factcheck.bg has received grants from the US Embassy, the European Parliament, NATO and donors from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The funding from the US Embassy was only for capacity building, while some of the other projects of the platform provide funding for the fact-checking activity. The funding is structured in a way that guarantees full editorial independence. Donors don’t play any role in the selection of the claims that are being fact-checked or in the verification process.                                                                                                            

done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg has transparently indicated on its website what procedures and standards it follows concerning editorial independence from the donors. A strong point is that each publication that was assessed in the randomized sample has a disclaimer about the project and the donor which provides the funding for it.                                                                                                            

done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

The following ten fact checks were published over the last six months under the rubric "Checked." They focus on a claim chosen because it represents some combination of apparent dubiousness; potential social imact of the subject; and significant reach based on the size of the audience. The topics arise mainly according to news cycles -- as determined by media organizations -- as well as the capriciousness of social media trends. The broad mixture of sources and equal treatment of each article shows how Factcheck.bg treats all dubious claims even-handedly - regardless of the source.

In terms of context, Bulgaria is currently experiencing extraordinary political instability, forming its first government after three parliamentary election in the last eight months. The predictable political landscape of most parliamentary democracies -- divided between ruling and opposition parties -- has not existed since factcheck.bg was created in May 2021. 

Despite the almost constant electioneering over the last eight months, the most urgent disinformation pollution of the Bulgarian media ecosystem currently concerns the pandemic more than politics and the claims checked reflect this. Without only 26% of the population vaccinated despite the ready availabilty of vaccines for 18 months, and among the highest COVID mortality rates in the world, Bulgarian media and social media consumers are constantly innundated with disinformation in both mainstream media and social media. 

All the claims have been checked according to the same fact-checking methodology and the findings are all based strictly on the evidence found during the reporting process and written in the same even-handed tone.

https://factcheck.bg/policai-v-parizh-arestuvat-zhena-zashtoto-opitala-da-pazaruva-v-mol-bez-pasport-za-vaksina/

https://factcheck.bg/kakvo-pokazvat-dannite-za-smartnostta-ot-kovid-19-v-angliya-koito-mangarov-razprostrani/

https://factcheck.bg/ne-e-vyarno-che-sa-arestuvani-samoleti-na-szo-praskali-s-koronavirus/

https://factcheck.bg/smazvasht-amerikanski-natisk-varhu-balgariya-zaradi-severna-makedoniya/

https://factcheck.bg/ne-e-vyarno-che-sled-komunizma-balgariya-se-e-klasirala-mezhdu-chetvarto-i-sedmo-myasto-v-pisa/

https://factcheck.bg/szo-zabranyava-na-zhenite-da-piyat-alkohol/

https://factcheck.bg/dozhivoten-imunitet-sreshtu-covid-19/

https://factcheck.bg/ne-e-vyarno-che-vaksiniranite-hora-nyama-da-mogat-da-letyat-sas-samolet/

https://factcheck.bg/ne-v-balgariya-nyama-galopirashta-inflaciya/

https://factcheck.bg/ne-e-vyarno-che-v-evropejskiya-parlament-se-vliza-bez-kovid-sertifikat/

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg does use the same high standards of evidence and judgment for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim. The selected sample of 20 publications follows the high quality procedure for dealing with the evidence regardless of who is speaking. No loaded or partisan language has been detected in the publications. There has been no unfair treatment of sources with regard to who is speaking.


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has explained on its website how it selects the claims.

I believe that selecting what to fact-check is a methodological issue of utmost importance. If selection of topics or speakers is distorted by being biased, unbalanced or one-sided, the accuracy of the sources and of the evaluation will not be enough to contribute for a fair fact-checking effort. The selection must be processed in a way that is not affected not only by the political or ideological values of the fact-checkers, owners or donors, but also by the personal biases of the fact-checkers - their selective perception, confirmation bias, motivated reasoning or other normal cognitive distortions of the human condition.

The selection process should also reflect the complexity of the issues it tackles and should not bring additional polarization. Factcheck.bg deals predominantly with two topics – the Covid pandemic (mostly vaccines) and the war in Ukraine. This approach is justified by the great amount of disinformation in Bulgaria and globally concerning these two issues, which is a totally valid argument.

At the same time combating aggressive disinformation campaigns concerning Covid vaccines should not make the platform step into activism or advocacy. To my impression Factcheck.bg sometimes misses the opportunity to create trust, a sense of balance and unbiased attitude.

With the war in Ukraine however the platform is doing better. It predominantly debunks false stories invented by the Russian propaganda but at the same time several articles find that images or data from the Ukrainian armed forces are also not accurate. The platform doesn’t lose direction about who is the aggressor and who is the victim in this war, but at the same time tries to demonstrate the idea for balance and impartiality by choosing different aspects of the complex situation and not taking only one side. This new approach of Factcheck.bg should definitely be encouraged because it brings a feeling of credibility and fairness.

I would recommend that the platform expands its thematic diversity beyond targeted disinformation campaigns and that it includes a fair share of “true” claims.

Although the above mentioned remarks are important for the selection process of Factcheck.bg, the platform has recently demonstrated improvement which should be encouraged. As long as significant number of the fact-checks are not unduly imbalanced, I think that overall the platform meets to a high degree the standard for not unduly concentrating its fact-checking on any one side. 


done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg explains in details why it uses certain sources and the context around them. When relevant, the fact-checks disclose the background of the sources used, their political or commercial interests. In some cases the platform discloses the performance record of a certain source on social networks.                                                                                                             

done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate. However, I would recommend that it expands the diversity of the political claims examined in its new rubric “Politicheck”. Lately Politicheck.bg has been dominated by statements of the political leader (or other representatives) of a small proRussian opposition party (Kostadin Kostadinov). Although Kostadinov is indeed a major source of disinformation in Bulgaria, there should definitely be more speakers whose claims are fact-checked.  

done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

Please see Impartiality and Integrity https://factcheck.bg/en/work-principles/

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has declared a policy of non-partisanship for its staff, which is indicated on its website. A randomised sample of the Facebook feeds of key staff figures (including the editor-in-chief Ralitsa Kovacheva) has shown that the staff, as a rule, adheres to the declared policy and is not involved in publishing policy positions in a way that seems biased on issues the organization is fact-checking.


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has a strictly professional approach to working with sources. All of the publications in the randomised sample use abundant number of high quality (mostly primary) sources, including open data, official statistics, legislation, online tools for verification. There are almost none anonymous sources. Relevant links are provided in a way that users can replicate the inquiry if they wish.


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Explaining the context of sourcing is a pattern for Factcheck.bg. The platform always makes judgments upon high quality primary sources. The use of secondary sources is rare - when primary sources are not available, and this is indicated in the publications. 


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has a pattern to thoroughly inquire into the claims at stake by using multiple sources. Not a single fact-checking publication in the randomised sample includes only one relevant named source. The sources are always multiple and in most cases are indicated with relevant links.   


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg identifies, where necessary, the relevant interests of the sources they use where a typical member of the public might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Factcheck.bg is the factchecking section of AEJ-Bulgaria, an independent NGO registered in a Sofia court in 2010, working exclusively with to improve professional journalism and information integirty. 

Please see the attached copy of the legal registration of AEJ-Bulgaria.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf AEJ.Bulgaria.registr... (69 KB)
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg is a distinct team (fact-checking section) within a legally registered nonprofit organization (Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria), which is clearly indicated on the website. Each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue is also indicated on the website. Factcheck.bg has received grants from the US Embassy, the European Parliament, NATO and donors from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has indicated accurately its ownership and its legal status. 


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Factcheck.bg has explained in details its organizational structure. Editorial control is exercised by the editorial team and mostly by the editor-in-chief Ralitsa Kovacheva who holds the ultimate responsibility. All members of the team working for Factcheck.bg and all the authors of the fact-checks have been identified. 


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
There is a special page on the website of Factcheck.bg indicating in details the professional biography of all the members of the team (13 people at the moment) who, according to the organizational structure, play a significant part in its editorial output. 

done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 10 months ago

See: Communication with Readers   https://factcheck.bg/en/work-principles/

See also: Suggest a Claim to Verify  https://factcheck.bg/en/send/


Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
There is a user friendly contact form for the audience to provide a claim for fact-checking on the website. Factcheck.bg also provides an email for general feedback. There is a message option on the Facebook page of Factcheck.bg which makes it easy for the members of the audience to communicate with the editorial team. It would probably be a good idea for the team to provide also a telephone number for contact.

done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

See Transparency of Methodology 

https://factcheck.bg/en/work-principles/

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg has published on its website a comprehensive statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks. The platform explains in details the values, standards and the methodology of fact-checking. 

done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Taking into account the fact that 19 out of 20 articles in the Factcheck.bg rubric “Checked” are marked as either “false” or “misleading”, we can assume that what Factcheck.bg is doing is predominantly debunking false stories. “Apparent dubiousness” is supposedly the main criterion (one out of three) that the platform uses to judge which statement to select for verification, although it considers also the reach and importance of the claims.

Although selecting predominantly false statements is a recognized method of fact-checking, I would highly recommend that Factcheck.bg adjusts its selection procedure in order to include a fair share of “true” statements. This shift will bring more fair balance to the selection process. The other option for Factcheck.bg is to state more firmly in the methodological remarks that it only debunks false claims.

Factcheck.bg often explains the reason for choosing a claim to check – for example, due to its reach in social networks.  


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
When evaluating the claim, Factcheck.bg makes an in-depth inquiry of the issue at stake, using multiple sources, and sets out relevant evidence that appears to support the claim made, as well as evidence that appears to undermine it, before determining which is correct. 

done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg applies the same high standards when assessing the evidence regardless of who made the claim. No partisan language or a pattern of making assumptions (without evidence) has been detected.                                                                                                                                                                

done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg rarely contacts those who made the claim (that is being fact-checked) in order to seek supporting evidence because usually the claims and the evidence are clear enough and there is no need for further clarification. The applicant selects claims predominantly from Facebook pages or groups which sometimes makes it difficult to find a speaker willing to explain the claim because it usually is outright disinformation. In certain occasions however the platform contacts either the speaker or experts/institutions when evaluating the evidence. 

done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Readers are asked to suggest claims to check. The site states clearly that the only claims which factcheck.bg can check are those presented as facts - not opinions. All legitimate queries, all those sincerely intended to verify a claim, will receive a response with an explanation, including those suggestions which are not found to merit a fact check.  

https://factcheck.bg/en/send/

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear that readers can legitimately expect that only factual claims will be fact-checked and that opinions are not fact-checkable. The platform has made a pledge on its website to always respond to the user in case the claim is not fact-checkable. 

done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago
Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
Factcheck.bg does have a comprehensive corrections policy. It has made a statement about that policy and the corrections procedure on its website. It is easily visible and accessible. 

done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago



Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

The corrections policy of Factcheck.bg sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact-check, are handled. According to the procedure minor revisions are indicated and explained in the fact-check while major revisions require a replacement of the incorrect publication with the correct one and a thorough explanation of the reasons for the revision. The corrections policy is adhered to scrupulously. Several fact-checks have been found to have minor corrections that have been comprehensively explained.


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

In our seven months of operations we have received only one correction request from a reader. The case involved a minor calculation error. After checking the signal and determining that it was correct we revised the number according to the information the reader sent us. The intervention was marked in the beginning of the article and the whole explanation with the name of the reader, who wanted to be public, was included at the end of the article:

https://factcheck.bg/kakvo-pokazvat-dannite-za-smartnostta-ot-kovid-19-v-angliya-koito-mangarov-razprostrani/

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago
The corrections of mistakes made by Factcheck.bg are easily visible and transparent. They are accompanied by an open and fair explanation. It is easy for the user to distinguish between the original text and the corrected version.                                                                                                            

done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Factcheck.bg is a first time applicant. If accepted, Factcheck.bg will gladly post the IFCN badge on its website and post a link referring complaints about IFCN code violations to the IFCN site.  

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Not applicable.


done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

Factcheck.bg
08-Oct-2021 (11 months ago) Updated: 9 months ago

Not applicable. 

Tsvetelina Sokolova Assessor
10-Jun-2022 (3 months ago) Updated: 3 months ago

Not applicable.


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Tsvetelina Sokolova.