FactFox – A Reliable Fact-checking Tool and Database to Support Newsrooms and Social Media Managers.
by Maria Fuchs, Bayerischer Rundfunk
“Which Lockdown regulations are valid from 28th of April in Bavaria? Who will be vaccinated first? And is the whole pandemic one big hoax?” – These and a vast amount of similar questions are asked over and over again by the public through the different social media channels of Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavaria’s public broadcasting service).
The newsrooms were looking for a time- and capacity-saving solution to store reliable answers to these questions, so that social media managers wouldn’t have to research the same topics multiple times. From the beginning of the pandemic in spring of 2020, a team of archive specialists developed a workflow to build up a database consisting of precise abstracts answering the most important questions in regards to Covid-19. The result is a growing collection of valuable information accessible for the whole editorial staff through the browser extension FactFox.
At the beginning of the year 2021 the project was expanded to also collect information about the upcoming parliamentary elections in autumn of 2021. At the start of every working day the FactFox-Team is on the hunt for relevant topics. They screen the relevant news outlets and take into consideration viral topics that have come up through social media monitoring.
All the daily topics are gathered and put into a shared document – the team then meets in a short video-conference and discusses why they think it is necessary to include the question and the corresponding explanation into the FactFox-database. The agreed upon topics are then written up, double checked, verified and saved in the database. The primary and secondary sources are linked in every abstract in case the person researching wishes to read the background information as well. This also guarantees a transparency of our source material.
The journalists and social media managers can access the information whenever they need it via the browser extension. If they want to check a statement or a question in the comment section of a social media post for example they only need to mark one significant keyword, click right once and select the FactFox fact-checking option. They then are directly lead to a relevant factual entry in the database. Due to the 24-hour news cycle, there are constant changes in reporting. That is why we take care and time to update the existing facts in the FactFox-Database so they stay relevant.