Myth Detector

Organization: Media Development Foundation
Applicant: Tamar Kintsurashvili
Assessor: Oleg Khomenok
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Feedback on recommendations:

a) to extend the variety of fact-check topics from the Russian propaganda and international topics to local issues important for the Georgian population.

We’ve already extended our fact-checking to local topics and reflected this development in the section “about”

Following topics are added to the section “about”:

Media Development Foundation examines manipulative media content from various directions:

Information influence activities by foreign country (direct propaganda by Russian government sponsored media and indirect anti-Western propaganda by cloaked media outlets);

Domestic political propaganda (use of trolls and fake pages in social media for political purposes)

Spread of false information for economic purposes (click bait web-pages).

http://mythdetector.ge/en/about-project

In addition, methodology on identification of trolls is added to the section “methodology::

Trolls are identified based on open sources and primarily on the open data of the suspicious account. Monitoring of trolls is carried out on the basis of analysis of a social media account profile and covers the following aspects: 1. “About me” section of a troll account, personal photos and videos, 2. public comments, posts and behaviour in the timeline.

To verify whether a social media account is real we additionally use person identification search engines, such as Webmii.com, Pipl. com, People.yandex.ru.

In case trolls are using other persons’ photos to make their identity more real and credible, we use photo verification resources, like: images.google.com, Tineye.com, yandex.com/images, Baidu.com.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/methodology

b) to publish the MDF Code of Conduct online on the MDF web-page.

Done

http://mdfgeorgia.ge/eng/page/87/

c) to update Myth Detector Code of Conduct with the part stating nonpartisanship.

Updated and following sentence is added in the Code of Conduct:

Our employee shall not be a member of any party or publicly support any candidate in election process.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/myth-detector-code-conduct

d) to produce annual financial overview at least in a format of the pie-charts that will show the income structure including sources of funding and major spending structure.

Done for 2018 and we’ll add previous years budgets as well.

http://mdfgeorgia.ge/eng/page/91/

e) to produce a more substantial description and explanation of the corrections and mistakes treatment.

Done:

Following sentence is added to the correction To consider readers’ complaints under the Code of Conduct of Myth Detector.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/complaints

Detailed policy on corrections and complaint review is added in the section “complaints”:

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/complaints

f) to move "Contact us" and "Complaint" buttons on the first screen of the web-site close to the FB, Twitter and YouTube buttons.

c) to move up the Report Fake button.

Done


Conclusion and recommendations
on 10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago)

Oleg Khomenok wrote:

Myth Detector as part of Media Development Foundation looks very professional and robust initiative that debunks fakes and reveals manipulations and propaganda in the media playing vital role in development of media literacy in Georgia. It definitely deserve to be accepted to join IFCN.

Yet there are several recommendations for updates that need to be performed before Myth Detector will be accepted to join IFCN:

a) to extent the variety of fact-check topics from the Russian propaganda and international topics to local issues important for Georgian population.

b) to publish MDF Code of Conduct online on the MDF web-page.

c) to update Myth Detector Code of Conduct with the part stating nonpartisanship.

d) to produce annual financial overview at least in a format of the pie-charts that will show the income structure including sources of funding and major spending structure.

e) to move "Contact us" and "Complaint" buttons on the first screen of the web-site close to the FB, Twitter and YouTube buttons.

f) to move up the Report Fake button.

g) to produce more substantial description and explanation of the corrections and mistakes treatment.

on 10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago)

Oleg Khomenok 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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Myth Detector (www.mythdetector.ge) is a fact checking portal of Media Development Foundation (MDF), aimed at fighting anti-Western propaganda through providing fact-based information and enhancing media literacy. Since 2016, the MDF has been cooperating with the EU strategic communications service. The Myth Detector fact-checking web-page is a partner of DisinfoPortal, an online platform of the Atlantic Council.

Files Attached
picture_as_pdf MDF Registration Doc... (480 KB) picture_as_pdf MDF charter.pdf (62 KB)
Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Media Development Foundation is registered as Non-profit and Non-Government Media supporting organization and Myth Detector is part os the organization targeted to fact-checking initiative.


done_all 1a marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Myth Detector runs in 4 languages: Georgian, English, Armenian and Azerbaijani. Georgian and English versions are updated regularly, but we prepare Armenian and Azerbaijani translations for ethnic minorities according to the ongoing projects and the resources. The site allows the readers to browse fact checks according to 16 different categories and date:


1. GEO: http://mythdetector.ge/ka/myths/myth

2. ENG: http://mythdetector.ge/en/myths/myth

3. ARM: http://mythdetector.ge/hy/myths/myth

4. AZE: http://mythdetector.ge/az/myths/myth 

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Fact-check reports are done in accurate and professional way in 4 languages. At the same time the latest Armenian and Azeri languages reports were published at the end of 2018. This is not a big deal since the major language is Georgian and the reports in Georgian are produced and published several times per week. English language reports also are produced several time per week. 


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

1. How Kremlin Tries to Cover up Russian Trace in Skripal Case with Lugar Laboratory
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/how-kremlin-tries-cover-russian-trace-skripal-case-lugar-laboratory

2. Disinformation, as if Turkish government is going to help Adjarian Muslims to gain independence
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/disinformation-if-turkish-government-going-help-adjarian-muslims-gain-independence

3.Geworld Disseminated Fake Information on the Number of Muslims in Europe
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/geworld-disseminated-fake-information-number-muslims-europe

4. Fake Russian Story about Women Allegedly Apologizing to Offender Migrants
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/fake-russian-story-about-women-allegedly-apologizing-offender-migrants

5. 18+: disseminated video of "organ trading" depicts victims of Russian air bombing in Syria instead of black market trade victims in Turkey
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/18-disseminated-video-organ-trading-depicts-victims-russian-air-bombing-syria-instead-black  

6. Fake News Image Depicts Turkish Citizen, Who Jumped from Hotel Window
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/fake-news-image-depicts-turkish-citizen-who-jumped-hotel-window-0

7. Baghaturia shares disinformative photos about alleged raids in Ukrainian Orthodox churches
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/baghaturia-shares-disinformative-photos-about-alleged-raids-ukrainian-orthodox-churches

8. Disinformation on human Leather Clothes in Asaval-Dasavali and Russian Media
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/disinformation-human-leather-clothes-asaval-dasavali-and-russian-media

9. Geworld.ge and Sakinform Post Fake Interview with Former MI6 Chief
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/geworldge-and-sakinform-post-fake-interview-former-mi6-chief

10. Geworld.ge Uses a 2016 Photo of a Manifestation in Poland to Illustrate the Developments in Norway
http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/geworldge-uses-2016-photo-manifestation-poland-illustrate-developments-norway


Myth Detector’s Code of Conduct rests on seven fundamental principles. They are: 1. Accuracy; 2. Impartiality; 2. Transparency of Sources; 4. Transparency of Methodology; 5. Correction; 7. Prevention of Discrimination; 8. Transparency of Organization and Financing.

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

Most of the fact-check reports are based on the publications of the Russian, national or international Pro-Russian media or politicians and focused on debunking mostly on Russian propaganda narratives and fakes which is really important since Russian propaganda machine is very active in the region. There is a certain lack of the content dedicated to the analysis of the local issues, politicians and parties promises and claims verifying what is true and what is false.

Recommendation: to extent the variety of fact-check topics from the Russian propaganda and international topics to local issues important for Georgian population.


done 2a marked as Partially compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

MDF's Code of Conduct notes that employees should avoid any personal, financial, political or other interests that might hinder MDF’s integrity and their capability or willingness to perform their job duties. Employees should not advocate or campaign for any political candidates. 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1V2X0iBU5uGsfXbVKTHbkQkPRxaboUyzwjNPFFGDQgp4/edit?usp=sharing 

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The MDF Code of Conduct is clearly stating the rules of nonpartisanship. But this Code of Conduct is not available non the MDG web-site or at least I didn't managed to find it on the http://www.mdfgeorgia.ge 

At the same time Myth Detector Code of Conduct http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/myth-detector-code-conduct was generic description of the impartiality.

Recommendations: a) to publish MDF Code of Conduct online. b) to update Myth Detector Code with he part stating nonpartisanship.  


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

As noted above, Myth Detector's Code of Conduct rests on seven fundamental principles. They are: 1. Accuracy; 2. Impartiality; 2. Transparency of Sources; 4. Transparency of Methodology; 5. Correction; 7. Prevention of Discrimination; 8. Transparency of Organization and Financing.

Fact-checking process involves four stages: Selection; Verification of facts; Evaluation; Search of information about a source.

Fact-checkers are obliged to indicate their sources on each claim or statement. Hyperlinks are regularly provided so the readers are able to verify information independently. We recognize internationally approved data sources and scientific evidence as credible source.

Detailed information about Myth Detector's methodology is publicly available on our website: http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/methodology   

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

In all fact-check reports that I tracked the sources are referred in proper way enabling users to understand how the fact-check was done. Applicant is using multiple sources and tools to check and verify claims and publications.


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago
Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The Board page of MDF site clearly stating who are the people making decisions in he organization and the form of the registration as NGO.

On the page http://mdfgeorgia.ge/eng/actives/ there is only the list of funded projects and it is hard to define the whole picture of the MDF funding. There is no overview of the spendings. 

Recommendation: to produce annual financial overview at least in a format of the pie-charts that will show the income structure including sources of funding and major spending structure.


done 4a marked as Partially compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Information about the authors and key actors behind Myth Detector and their biographies is publicly available on our website: http://mythdetector.ge/en/about-project

Besides the staff members, MythLab students do their internships at Myth Detector and contribute to the platform with their fact-checking articles. Biographies of our students and their fact-checks are available on our website http://mythdetector.ge/en/laboratory 

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

All people including Board, Management team and Authors are listed on the MDF and Myth Detector pages with short bios and direct links to the stories produced by authors.


done_all 4b marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago
Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The contact page http://mythdetector.ge/en/contact has address, e-mail, phone and map in generic format located at the bottom of the page so the user should scroll down before will find the link. The link to complaint page is also located at the bottom of the site.

Recommendation: to move "Contact us" and "Complaint" buttons on the first screen of the web-site close to the FB, Twitter and YouTube buttons.


done 4c marked as Partially compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Myth Detector checks fake news revealed in media by means of open sources. In doing so, researchers follow the Code of Conduct and methodology.

Myth Detector's code of conduct: http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/myth-detector-code-conduct

Myth Detector's methodology: http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/methodology  

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The step-by-step methodology is published on the Myth Detector web-site and explains how the fact-check reports are produced.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Media Development Foundation (MDF) is accountable to the public. We consider complaints which are made under the Code of Conduct of Myth Detector.

We can accept complaints either by email or through our online form.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/complaints

Myth Detector website also has banner Report Fake through which readers are able to submit doubtful information for fact-checking. http://mythdetector.ge/en/about-project  

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

There is an opportunity to submit the claims to fact-check. "Report Fake" button of a big size is appearing on the third screen while scrolling. There is an explanation engaging audience to send claims for the fact-checking though the site and Facebook page.

Recommendation: To move up the Report Fake button. 


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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.

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

Correction policy is part of Myth Detector's Code of Conduct. We are committed to correct a mistake immediately once we learn about it, also to update information when we learn that a source of misinformation or/and manipulation has corrected or deleted the initial version. Everyone is free to apply to Myth Detector if information checked by us is, in an applicant’s view, inaccurate and to offer corresponding counter arguments.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/myth-detector-code-conduct

http://mythdetector.ge/en/page/methodology  

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The policy of correction of mistakes has generic description in the Code of Conduct "To correct a mistake immediately once we learn about it." 

And in the Methodology "Everyone is free to apply to Myth Detector if information checked by us is, in an applicant’s view, inaccurate and to offer corresponding counter arguments. To this end, an applicant must write to us (info@mdfgeorgia.ge) or fill in a complaint form." 

Recommendation: to produce more substantial description of the corrections and mistakes treatment.


done 6a marked as Partially compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

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

Media Development Foundation
07-Aug-2019 (7 months ago) Updated: 7 months ago

1. On June 6, 2018, Myth Detector published a material concerning Russian and Azerbaijani gas prices. Considering the fact that the price of the Russian gas in 2019 is classified and existing open sources may be interpreted in various different ways, Editorial Board of Myth Detector decided to temporarily remove the publication from the website. Clarification was made on the same link where the initial material was published.

http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/clarification-statement-russian-and-azerbaijani-gas?fbclid=IwAR1-rPBj_7auHEZsMaxclQYREKDi2RWxAYTE-pMGGfUk9HIiorPcNMEBK8Y

2. After publishing the Myth Detector's article, Facebook page "ლიდერი 41" has apologized for publishing false information as if Russian fighter jets intervened in Georgia. We have updated our article with this information. http://mythdetector.ge/en/myth/disinformation-if-russian-fighter-jets-intervened-georgia 

Oleg Khomenok Assessor
10-Sep-2019 (6 months ago) Updated: 6 months ago

The example https://www.mythdetector.ge/en/myth/clarification-statement-russian-and-azerbaijani-gas is related to the story published on June 6, 2018. On August 6, 2019, 13 month after the initial publication, Myth Detector newsroom considered to remove the publication form the site. Since there is no detailed explanation it is hard to define what was the mistake and why it took 13 month to discover the mistake. 

The second example is not a correction but informing users about Myth Detector publications impact.


done 6b marked as Partially compliant by Oleg Khomenok.

Section 7: Eligibility to be a signatory

Criterion 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.

Criterion 1.2
The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.

Criterion 1.3
The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the three months prior to the date of application.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 1.5
The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.

Criterion 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.

Section 8: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

Criterion 2.1
The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 9: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 10: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

Criterion 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).

Criterion 4.2
Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 4.5
The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Section 11: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

Criterion 5.1
The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Section 12: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.

Criterion 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.