La Silla Vacía

Organization: La Silla Vacía
Applicant: Juan Esteban Lewin
Assessor: Ramón Salaverría
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Additional information on La Silla Vacia's expenditure (and all its finance, including a link to its certified financial statements) can be found here: https://lasillavacia.com/content/financiacion-63024

Our structured methodology can be found in this page. https://lasillavacia.com/content/metodologia-62965 It breaks down into six steps and a has brief explanation of how we apply it to Whatsapp chains. 

Our corrections policy is published in our "rules of the game" section, here. https://lasillavacia.com/content/reglas-de-juego-55171 It specifies a six-step process to define what we do in such cases.


Conclusion and recommendations
on 30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Ramón Salaverría wrote:

Considering the evidences provided below, the assessment of La Silla Vacía’s compliance of the code of principles is as follows:

1. Organization

Criterion #1.1 – Complete compliance

Criterion #1.2 – Complete compliance

2. Nonpartisanship and fairness

Criterion #2.1 – Complete compliance

Criterion #2.2 – Complete compliance

3. Transparency of sources

Criterion #3.1 – Complete compliance

4. Transparency of funding and of organization

Criterion #4.1 – Partial compliance

Criterion #4.2 – Complete compliance

Criterion #4.3 – Complete compliance

5. Transparency of methodology

Criterion #5.1 – Partial compliance

Criterion #5.2 – Complete compliance

6. Open and honest corrections policy

Criterion #6.1 – Partial compliance

on 30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Ramón Salaverría recommended Accept with edits


Section 1: Organization

Criterion 1a
Proof of registration
Evidence required: Please provide evidence that the signatory is a legally-registered organization set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking or the distinct fact-checking project of a recognized media house or research institution.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Founded in 2009, La Silla Vacía is the most renowned online native news outlet of Colombia and one of the most influential in Latin America. Since 2013 it runs a section called “Detector de mentiras” (‘Lie Detector’, http://lasillavacia.com/detector-de-mentiras), focused on fact-checking.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 1b
Archive
Evidence required: Insert a link to the archive of fact checks published in the previous three months. If you do not collect all fact checks in one place, please explain how the fact-checking is conducted by your organization.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)
Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

La Silla Vacía publishes fact-checks about different topics and people on a regular basis (currently, two or three per week). More than one hundred fact-checks have been counted since the section “Detector de mentiras” was launched in 2013.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Section 2: Nonpartisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2a
Body of work sample
Evidence required: Please share links to ten fact checks that better represent the scope and consistency of your fact-checking. Provide a short explanation of how your organization strives to maintain coherent standards across fact checks.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

1. Guerrilleros escoltas: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-whatsapp-sobre-guerrilleros-escoltas-61392

2. Discurso de Juan Manuel Santos en la instalación del Congreso: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-al-discurso-de-santos-en-la-instalacion-del-congreso-61825#7

3. El arranque del NO al plebiscito: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-al-arranque-del-no-al-plebiscito-57371

4. El discurso de la diputada anti-gay: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/el-discurso-enganoso-de-la-diputada-anti-gay-57244

5. La francesa que murió en el Centro Comercial Andino: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-whatsapp-sobre-la-francesa-que-murio-en-el-andino-61499

6. Falsa destitución de Álvaro Uribe Vélez: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-whatsapp-falsa-destitucion-de-alvaro-uribe-61783

7. Juan Gossaín y el voto en blanco en el Senado: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-whatsapp-sobre-juan-gossain-y-el-voto-en-blanco-61440

8. Álvaro Uribe sobre el acuerdo final: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-uribe-sobre-el-acuerdo-final-57734

9. Juan Manuel Santos sobre las regalías: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-santos-sobre-las-regalias-52912

10. Los mitos del Bronx: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/los-mitos-del-bronx-pasados-por-el-detector-de-mentiras-61191#5

La Silla Vacía has run the Lie Detector (Detector de Mentiras) since 2013 to factcheck claims made by powerful figures in Colombia. It was created following advise form Chequeado, using standard coherent and consistent way of assessing the value of the claims. We created it to demystify the political discourse and make political players accountable for what they say. We fact-check all parts of the political debate, not only politicians but the judgments made by opinion leaders, media, and the opposition.

Recently we have focused our efforts on partnering with the public and audiences, specifically by asking our readers to send us WhatsApp claims, because we found that news consumers in Colombia often use the popular global messaging and communication platform as their main information source and that it has been used to misinform. We thus launched WhatsApp Detector in January 2017 as a service that factchecks viral chain messages that circulate on the platform, using the same method to create and disseminate fact checks.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

According to the evidences provided by the media outlet in their application to IFCN, and the analysis of their fact-checks made for this assessment, I conclude that La Silla Vacía covers a variety of subjects or speakers in a fairly balanced way.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 2b
Nonpartisanship policy
Evidence required: Please share evidence of your policy preventing staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations. Please also indicate the policy your organization has as a whole regarding advocacy and supporting political candidates.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

http://lasillavacia.com/content/preguntas-frecuentes-55167

In order to maintain the independence of La Silla Vacía we use the techniques of good journalism: we have an objective method of verifying data, we report against our prejudices, we do not make stories from a single source, we call all sides of a history, and we do research until we convince ourselves of what happened.

La Silla Vacía is not politically affiliated with any party although that doesn't mean that individual journalists do not have their political preferences. But we try to report against our prejudices and preferences to filter out those biases. We are only ideologically aligned to the Colombian Political Constitution of 1991.

We don't enter into any relationship that may restrain our freedom to report what we want. We don't accept donations or funding from national government offices or political parties. Invitations or gifts from the sources are never accepted.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Based on the same evidences indicated above, I conclude that La Silla Vacía does not, in any way, advocate in favor or against any electoral candidate. Besides advertisements, the funding of La Silla Vacía comes mainly from subsidies of international foundations, such as Ford, Open Society, Ned, and Oxfam. La Silla Vacía doesn’t accept donations or funding from national government offices or political parties.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Section 3: Transparency of Sources

Criterion 3a
Sources Policy
Please share a brief and public explanation (500 words max) of how sources are provided in enough detail that readers could replicate the fact check. If you have a public policy on how you find and use sources for your fact-checking, it should be shared here.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Our factchecks always provide at least the name of the expert, institution or organization that we used as a source. When possible, we include a link to the document that sustains the data used.

Our policy is to use, whenever possible, public data that has not been put into question. When that is not possible, or the claim relates to an argument rather than a specific information, we look for the best renowned experts in the field and crosscheck their answers. Readers could replicate the fact check by writing directly to the team of La Silla Vacía by the contact form, or simply in the comments section below every story which are constantly reviewed by the author.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

In its fact-checks, La Silla Vacía provides regularly links to reliable sources of data, as the readers can check by themselves the truthfulness of the analyses. Readers are encouraged to send additional background information, as well as corrections, in case they find something wrong in the fact-checks. A very usable, easy-to-find online form is used for this interaction with the public.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Section 4: Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 4a
Funding Sources
Evidence required: Please link to the section where you publicly list your sources of funding (including, if they exist, any rules around which types of funding you do or don't accept), or a statement on ownership if you are the branch of an established media organization or research institution.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

http://lasillavacia.com/content/preguntas-frecuentes-55167 Half of our resources come from international cooperation projects with international ONGs such as Ford, Open Society, Ned and Oxfam. The other half come from commercial projects such as our IQ (where universities pay to have contextual ads of their papers and other academic publications); the sponsorship of our theme-based expert networks and regional dedicated media (regional Sillas); debates in universities; talks and workshops; crowdfunding; and commercial ads.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

In its application, La Silla Vacía has provided a link to its FAQ page, in which, indeed, there is a section explaining their funding policy (http://lasillavacia.com/content/preguntas-frecuentes-55167). Perhaps too broadly, this page states that 50% of the funding comes from international foundations, such as Ford, Open Society, Ned, and Oxfam. In the application, La Silla Vacía adds to that explanations that “the other half comes from commercial projects (...); the sponsorship of our theme-based expert networks and regional dedicated media (regional Sillas); debates in universities; talks and workshops; crowdfunding; and commercial ads.” All this information could be a bit more specific. Although detailed informations about the owners behind this news outlet are provided (“¿Quiénes son los dueños de La Silla Vacía?” [‘Who are the owners of La Silla Vacía?’]), little explanations can be found about the spending during the current year and about the form in which the organization is registered. All in all, the information about this news website’s ownership should be expanded and improved.


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 4b
Staff
Evidence required: Please link to the section detailing all authors and key actors behind your fact-checking project with their biographies. You can also list the name and bios of the members of the editorial board, pool of experts, advisory board, etc. if your organization has those.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)
Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

A full list of La Silla Vacía’s journalists and staff members is available on the website (http://lasillavacia.com/content/quienes-somos-55168). In addition, every news story and fact-check provides information about the journalists that are behind that news, including a link to their personal profile and bio.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 4c
Contact
Evidence required: Please link to the section where readers can get in touch with the organization.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)
Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Every fact-check has an easy-to-find online form, which allows the public to send their comments or corrections.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Section 5: Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5a
Detailed Methodology
Evidence required: Please link to a section or article detailing the steps you follow for your fact-checking work.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

We have developed a specific method for our WhatsApp checks. If a WhatsApp user contacts La Silla Vacía with a piece of misleading information, we will answer, either with a fact-check or explaining why we cannot factcheck it, mainly because it can be outside the scope of our work. The hope: each user will then share the fact-check with his or her social circle. Checking WhatsApp chain messages is a way to get involved in conversations that real people are actually participating in, and to give them tools to form opinions based on facts, rather than falsehoods. 90 percent of what we’ve factchecked turns out to be untrue, which suggests that people share information on WhatsApp based on their emotions and interests, not what they know to be factual. The WhatsApp Detector relies on the same tagging system developed for La Silla Vacía’s Lie Detector: sections are labeled as “True,” “False,” “True but…,” “Debatable,” “Rushed,” “Exaggerated,” or “Misleading.” La Silla Vacía publishes 2 to 5 detectors per week in order to cover enough topics and fake news. Example: http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-whatsapp-sobre-la-supuesta-casa-de-santos-en-londres-61994

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

Although in the application to the IFCN La Silla Vacía has provided details of how they handle the clarification requests submitted by their readers via WhatsApp, the truth is that they lack of a permanent and accessible explanation of their fact-checking methodology on the web. This deficiency should be corrected.


done 5a marked as Partially compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 5b
Claim submissions
Evidence required: Please link to the page or process through which readers can submit claims to fact-check. If you do not allow this, please briefly explain why.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

We constantly publish the following GIF in our web (https://giphy.com/gifs/26gsb8FMXu7lSVXXi/fullscreen) in order to persuade more people to send us viral chain messages that circulate on Whatsapp. In most Detectors, we also remind our audience to send the messages they want to factcheck (http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-whatsapp-cadena-sobre-voto-en-blanco-y-farc-61852). La Silla Vacía also includes a form open to any user that want to submit new or additional information about a specific history. This space is called “Cuéntenos lo que sabe” and users should include their name and message (http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-al-resumen-uribista-de-los-acuerdos-por-whatsapp-57860).  

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

La Silla Vacía has a very clear, ubiquitous and accessible online form that allows readers to send claims to fact-checks.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Section 6: Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 6a
Corrections policy
Evidence required: Please link to the page with your policy to address corrections. If it is not public, please share your organization's handbook.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

La Silla Vacía is open to review any possible mistake or inaccuracy. We hence react to any request or warning, be it formal or not, on any alleged mistake or inaccuracy. Once we learn about a request or warning, we start a process by matching the request to what we have published and to our sources for that information. If it is required, we look for additional sources of information that may help us to clear the specific point. With this additional reporting we define whether it is necessary to modify, correct, clarify or rectify our piece. If we find that it requires a minor clarification or correction, we modify the original text and add, at the end of the piece, a note by the editor in which we explain what has happened, our decision and the change, in order for our users to complete and transparent information. If we find that it requires the adjustment of an essential element of our original piece, we create a new one that rectifies, apologizes for the mistake and explains all the process, as well as the new and correct information. We also modify the original piece, including its title, stating that it has been rectified and including a hyperlink to the new and correct piece. If our conclusion is that nothing needs to be changed and there is a formal request to rectify, we include a note by the editor in which we explain what has happened, our decision and a hyperlink to the request, in order for our users to have complete and transparent information. In exceptional cases, when a debate has aroused regarding a piece by La Silla Vacía, the director has written an entry on their blog, explaining our position on the issue.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

As explained in their application to IFCN, La Silla Vacía has a very strong and professional corrections policy. 


done_all 6a marked as Fully compliant by Ramón Salaverría.

Criterion 6b
Examples of corrections
Evidence required: Please provide two examples of a correction made, or correction requests handled, in the past year.

La Silla Vacía
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

We recently published an article (http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-al-discurso-de-santos-en-la-instalacion-del-congreso-61825) regarding an important public address by the President. In one of the 40 fact checks that it included, pertaining to the amount of new homes whose construction was subsidized by the Government during his term, we forgot to include one of the channels in which such subsidies are granted, and thus mistakenly assessed the claim as false. In response to the piece a high level source contacted us, sent us the data that we had missed, and we thus corrected the fact check and included a note on the original piece explaining the situation.

Last year, in another piece (http://lasillavacia.com/historia/detector-de-mentiras-la-tributaria-58605) with multiple fact checks (39) for different public figures regarding on subject, we mistakenly understood a claim to refer to a given year, due to the contexts it was made. After publishing the piece, the public figure contacted us to explain that it referred to another year. We thus corrected the fact check and included a note on the original piece explaining the situation.

Ramón Salaverría Assessor
30-Oct-2017 (2 years ago)

They handle properly any possible mistake or inaccuracy pointed by the readers. Actually, they have provided in their application examples of such corrections made in the past. However, they don’t have any page that displays somewhere in their website –preferably in their fact-checking section– their correction policy. This deficiency should be corrected.


done 6b marked as Partially compliant by Ramón Salaverría.