Viralgranskaren

Organization: Viralgranskaren
Applicant: Åsa Larsson
Assessor: Ester Appelgren
Edits made by the organization after this assessment

IFCN Staff wrote:

Viralgranskaren have now tried to increase transparency and clarify how readers find information about how we work.

To make it happen, from now on, we will have a fact box at the end of each new fact-checking article. There it says how readers come in contact with us and that we follow the Swedish guidelines for publishers and IFCN code of principles.

We also link to a more detailed "About Viralgranskaren" article where we present our staff and additional guidelines.


Here is a link to an article that contains the fact box in the end:

https://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-bilden-visar-inte-en-pension%C3%A4r-som-f%C3%A5r-sin-rullator-beslagtagen

Here is a link to the article "About Viralgranskaren”:

https://www.metro.se/artikel/om-viralgranskaren

The article ”About Viralgranskaren” can also be found in the top menu on Metro.se. 


From the assessor: 

With the new fact box, Viralgranskaren now meet almost all of the criteria for the IFCN. Following the links in the Fact box, there is easy access to contact Viralgranskaren through Facebook and Twitter with suggestions for stories that readers want fact checked. However, I strongly recommend to add the Fact Box to each new fact check and even to the old ones if possible.

There is a link to the Swedish guidelines for journalists available at the webpage of the union for journalists in Sweden. Short methodology can be found following the last link and there is also a list of active authors to articles, and short bios are given. In regard of Viralgranskaren’s policy on preventing their staff from direct involvement in political parties and advocacy organizations I think it is sufficient with the link to the ethical guidelines for Swedish journalists, however, for the future renewal I strongly recommend Viralgranskaren to come with their own policy, especially considering that the Swedish code of conduct is not clear on (1)expressing political views publicly and (2) being member of a political party.



Conclusion and recommendations
on 01-Jun-2018 (2 years ago)

Ester Appelgren wrote:

Viralgranskaren recognized in Sweden as a well-known fact-checking entity part of the newspaper Metro. It has won several awards for innovative journalism, and is often used as a source in Swedish media.

Even though this initiative is a true fact-checking initiative, there were several of the criteria for IFCN that was not met, see short reports in the provided checklist. The website did not provide a list of authors, no biographies, and no corrections policy. Furthermore, as the ownership of Metro has shifted very recently, it is unclear to readers who owns Metro and there are no key figures or indications of what funding that might be involved in the initiative. This is also quite hard to come across even if you are an experienced Googler.

However, it is very clear that Viralgranskaren belongs to Metro, and therefore my remarks have more to do with the general policy of Metro and it's website, rather than the specific fact-checking initiative Viralgranskaren.

I would recommend that Viralgranskaren can be verified as part of IFCN, but from the perspective of the news consumer the website would benefit from providing the missing criteria.

on 01-Jun-2018 (2 years ago)

Ester Appelgren 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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Viralgranskaren is a project at the Swedish newspaper Metro (http://www.metro.se/) since 2014. Our first article (in Swedish) states the purpose to fact-check viral stories and rumours: http://www.metro.se/artikel/d%C3%A4rf%C3%B6r-startar-vi-viralgranskaren-xr

We posted an English version in May the same year: http://www.metro.se/artikel/the-viral-eye-let-us-check-before-you-share-xr

We're a recognized fact-checking initiative in Sweden and have been covered in many news outlets over the years, especially in connection with winning The Grand Prize of Journalism in Sweden, in the category of innovation (here in Swedish public radio): http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=6024257 and we're on Wikipedia: https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viralgranskaren

The newspaper Metro is well known and have papers in several countries. Some like the UK Metro is not connected to Metro International: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_International

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

Viralgranskaren is a part of the newspaper Metro. It appears as if this application was submitted previous to Metro being sold to a new company. Metro is since February 2017 owned by Custos AB, a Swedish investment company. The owners of this company has a history of media attention (2010) due to a previous company HQ Bank lost it’s banking license and were forced into liquidation, but they have since then cleared their reputation. The registered number of Custos AB is 556036-1668 and can be found on the website of Swedish Tax Agency, Skatteverket.

https://www.skatteverket.se/privat/skatter/vardepapper/aktiehistorik/c/custos.4.dfe345a107ebcc9baf800010121.html 


done 1a marked as Partially compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)
Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

Viralgranskaren publish content several times a week.


done_all 1b marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

Viralgranskaren is a section of Metro and as such we follow the ethical system for all journalistic work in Sweden, I found them translated to English here: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/j6075/edit/ethiccodes/SWEDEN.html

These rules form journalistic standards which also apply to our fact-checking work, letting people comment, providing all relevant information etc. We are very careful with individuals not used to public scrutiny or attention, but when we have to rely on anonymous sources we explain the situation to our readers.

Sometimes we rewrite international stories by other fact-checkers but we take the story further, getting independent verification and more detailed witness accounts.

Our focus is to fact-check claims spread by people online, not specifically politicians, but when they spread false claims we make no distinction and point out that it's a question of not fooling your followers (and politicians usually have a fair few). We've done fact-checks on both the left and the right as can be seen below. The online position we take with our reporting is that people should check things out before they share it online.

List:

”No, these people aren’t faking – their boat did sink in the Mediterranean sea”

https://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-de-h%C3%A4r-m%C3%A4nniskorna-fejkar-inte-deras-b%C3%A5t-har-sjunkit-p%C3%A5-medelhavet-xr

"No, this is not a SVT-film about somalis planning to invade Sweden" http://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-det-h%C3%A4r-%C3%A4r-inte-en-svt-film-om-somalier-som-ska-invadera-sverige-xr

”This is ”Storken” – Jakob, 20, fooled the whole country” (on the topic of satire changing shape in to fake news)

http://www.metro.se/artikel/h%C3%A4r-%C3%A4r-storken-jakob-20-lurade-hela-sverige-xr

”Yes, the police only hade four units in the entire Jämtland"

http://www.metro.se/artikel/ja-polisen-hade-bara-fyra-polisbilar-i-hela-j%C3%A4mtland-xr

”This is why you shouldn’t share wanted-ads on Facebook"

http://www.metro.se/artikel/d%C3%A4rf%C3%B6r-ska-du-inte-dela-efterlysningar-p%C3%A5-facebook-xr

”No, Alan Kurdis body was not moved "for better pictures"

http://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-alan-kurdis-kropp-blev-inte-flyttad-f%C3%B6r-b%C3%A4ttre-snyftbilder-xr

"No, this is not a Swedish victim of a brutal gang rape”

http://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-det-h%C3%A4r-%C3%A4r-inte-ett-svenskt-offer-f%C3%B6r-en-brutal-gruppv%C3%A5ldt%C3%A4kt-xr

VIDEO: ”A world with or without fact-checking”

http://www.metro.se/artikel/this-is-what-the-world-looks-like-with-and-without-fact-checking-xr

It’s based on the story about the ”christmas lights ban”: http://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-julbelysning-f%C3%B6rbjuds-inte-f%C3%B6r-att-muslimer-inte-ska-bli-uppr%C3%B6rda-xr

”No, Löfven’s ”socialist watch” doesn’t cost 275 000”

https://www.metro.se/artikel/nej-l%C3%B6fvens-socialistklocka-kostar-inte-275-000-kronor-xr

And finally an interview with a Swedish man running a site mixing fake news with merely twisted versions of reality: https://www.metro.se/artikel/mannen-bakom-satirense-jag-%C3%B6nskar-att-folk-inte-t%C3%A4nkte-s%C3%A5-svartvitt-xr

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

The links provided give proof of a great variety.


done_all 2a marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

As a Swedish newspaper we follow the code of conduct for journalists in Sweden, in English here: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/journalism/j6075/edit/ethiccodes/SWEDEN.html

The text in the english translation is a bit shortened, the points about journalistic integrity are more elaborate in original form: it says don't accept anything that might put your position as a free and independent journalist in question or give in to outside pressure whether to publish something (full text below):

2. Acceptera inte uppdrag, inbjudan, gåva, gratisresa eller annan förmån – och ingå inte avtal eller andra förbindelser – som kan misstänkliggöra din ställning som fri och självständig journalist.

3. Ge inte efter för påtryckningar från utomstående i avsikt att hindra eller inskränka berättigad publicitet eller i avsikt att skapa publicitet som inte är journalistiskt motiverad.

Sweden is well known to have a free and working press, with two out of four parts of the constitution dealing with freedom of expression. You can read more about it here: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2016/sweden

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

It is not possible for me to be 100% sure if they support certain candidates or take clear policy positions, but given the variety of topics and the fact that some of the more controversial rumours also have been proven by Viralgranskaren to actually be true, they appear objective in my opinion. The initiative Viralgranskaren is well-known in Sweden, has won several awards, and the brand is respected as a fact-checking initiative. It often appear in other media outlets as a source.


done_all 2b marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

Our readers know our format well. We present the claim and include how widespread it is, where it's been posted, how people have reacted to it. Then we present the ways we've checked the story, including image search, sources and asking experts or witnesses. We use links a lot and also write articles and guides on how people can fact-check things themselves, for example here: http://www.metro.se/artikel/guide-s%C3%A5-viralgranskar-du-bilder-fyra-enkla-steg-xr

We've done a tv-series together with public service tv in Sweden to help students get better at fact-checking (it's in Swedish): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyNE9qvyU-5wpLE8UGg9WysdEUs6f7qt7

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

The examples show that links are provided when possible


done_all 3a marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)
Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

In the application there is only a link to the website Viralgranskaren. On the website it is clear that Viralgranskaren is part of Metro, but you cannot find any information about key figures, spending or funding. Furthermore, it is not explicitly stated that Metro is now owned by Custos


cancel 4a marked as Non compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)
Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

There are no lists of authors or key actors available. The provided link in the application points to contact information for Metro and the editor in chief. There are furthermore no biographies.


done 4b marked as Partially compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)
Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

It is easy to reach out to Viralgranskaren both anonymously and with your known identity.


done_all 4c marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

The format of the articles are well-known to our readers and we explain what we have done in the texts. We also try to teach ways that the general public can fact-check themselves, for example in the article linked in 3 and in this basic step-by-step guide: http://www.metro.se/artikel/s%C3%A5-h%C3%A4r-g%C3%B6r-du-en-egen-viralgranskning-steg-f%C3%B6r-steg-xr . We also adhere to the journalistic rules here in Sweden, linked above and below.

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

The methodology is clear and well described as part of each article.


done_all 5a marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)
Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

Furthermore general explanations are provided on the website, as well as links to where readers can send suggestions for fact-checking.


done_all 5b marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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.

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago) Updated: 1 year ago

The link provided in the application goes to the Swedish Union of Journalists and their rules for publishing ethics, these rules are well known among journalists. However from the perspective of the news consumer, no specific policy for Viralgranskaren, or Metro can be found on the website and they are for sure not aware of the code of conduct for journalists or for that matter the Swedish Union of Journalists. 


done 6a marked as Partially compliant by Ester Appelgren.

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

Viralgranskaren
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

We reported on a spread story about a school making adjustments to a hymn, they themselves pointing out that they changed one word and chose to skip verses. The claim was that the hymn was censored for muslim refugees. We told the story and wrote about the school's explanation, but we missed that the site originally writing about it had made clarifying updates, which we corrected with an update of our own: http://www.metro.se/artikel/h%C3%A4r-%C3%A4r-historien-bakom-skolans-censur-av-nu-t%C3%A4ndas-tusen-juleljus

The same story had more development later, with a priest admonishing the school for the adjustments, which we also put in the article.

This year, corrections have mostly been about incorrect language, but the year before we retracted a story after we investigated a rumor about muslims handing out cake in Gothenburg to celebrate the Paris-attacks. We couldn't find evidence of this and found a group of shia muslims handing out cake to celebrate the birthday of Mohammed. But when our story was published it was claimed that another group hade been at the same location and handing out cake with more sinister motives. We checked it again and reported our findings in this article: http://www.metro.se/artikel/delade-muslimer-ut-t%C3%A5rta-i-nordstan-f%C3%B6r-att-fira-terrord%C3%A5det-i-paris-xr

Ester Appelgren Assessor
05-Apr-2017 (3 years ago)

Missing


done_all 6b marked as Fully compliant by Ester Appelgren.