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How Fact-Checking Can Win the Fight Against Misinformation

No one should underestimate the scale of the threat that misinformation and declining trust pose, or the complexity of their causes. But the problem is not nearly as intractable as many people seem to believe.

JOHANNESBURG – According to fact-checkers at the Washington Post, US President Donald Trump has made more than 13,000 false or misleading claims since his inauguration. It is no wonder some people doubt that the fact-checking of politicians’ claims is an answer to the problems of this misinformation age.

When politicians and journalists from Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia met at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London in July, they acknowledged that the rise of misinformation has contributed to declining public trust in politicians and the media. But effective solutions have not been forthcoming. When Europe’s political and business elite met the same month for theconference Les Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence 2019, they, too, saw few options for renewing trust.

But that does not mean that there are none. As the leaders or founders of fact-checking organizations in Africa, Latin America, and Europe, we know that our work can play a powerful role in countering the effects of misinformation and restoring faith in reliable sources.