Saturday, August 29, 2020

Fact-Checkers and Fake News

We may have had the experience of asking a child: "Who do you like more mom or your dad?" For the questioner, easily asked without much thought, but for those who have to answer, it is difficult; relatively easy to answer the question: "How much do you like mom or dad? A professor in the Department of Political Science gives the readers of the Catholic Peace Weekly some thoughts on 'Fake News' and Fact-Checkers.

The process of judging fake news is similar. It is not easy to discuss the news with only the options of true or false for producing news essentially involves a value judgment on the part of the media. The results of judgment on the factuality of information may appear differently depending on the context in which news is discussed.

This is the reason why the media's fact-checker uses scales such as 'not at all factual,' 'mostly not factual', 'half fact', 'mostly true', and 'fact'. Of course, such a measure may have higher validity than a method of judging the facts of news with only the two categories: fact or falsehood, but even where the fact check was performed we have no guarantee of the objective truth.

This is because it is not only difficult to quantitatively evaluate how many facts or non-facts are contained in the news, but subjective value judgments of the media is inevitably involved in the fact verification process. For example, as a result of quantitatively measuring the facts of the news, 49% of the information is 'mostly not true', and 51% of the information is 'mostly true', saying that the amount of factual information is 2% percent more— Can we conclude that it is mostly true? The same is true when the fact check is judged to be 'half-true'. 'Half the truth' is, in other words, 'half a lie'.

Public perceptions of the media or public officials can be very different when a media company judges reports of other media companies or public officials as half-true' and 'half false'. The results of fact checks have a greater impact on the public when dealing with remarks by public officials they do not support or media they do not trust.

Research results report that the media users with strong factionalism have a tendency to 'perceive hostile media' those that report controversies 'biased' in a direction unfavorable to their position. It is highly likely to further strengthen the hostility of users. Because people are more inclined to rate the media based on information that was unfavorable to their position, the fact check result can conclude that all news produced by media companies that I do not support is 'fake news'.

Media users are more likely to trust information that is not true when it comes in the form of news. This implies that it is necessary to continuously verify the facts of the media. However, rather than the results of the verification by the media companies themselves, discussions based on various judgments by each media company performing the fact check should be conducted more actively. In other words, the basis for the judgment used by multiple media companies in checking the facts for the same information, and the process of discussing the validity and reliability needs to be expanded.

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