Online rumours and misinformation in Northern Ireland

Online rumours and misinformation in Northern Ireland
by Dr Orna YOUNG
13 May 2021

Recent events in Northern Ireland have resulted in a renewed focus on the role of online rumours and false information in increasing inter-communal tensions and violence, particularly in interface areas of Belfast and specific areas of L~Derry. In Northern Ireland, where political, social and economic debate is often delineated along lines of perceived communal affiliation, false information and rumours have the potential to increase communal division and alienate communities from political processes and debates. Continue reading Online rumours and misinformation in Northern Ireland

FactCheckNI to boost graphical impact through Open Data Fund win

FactCheckNI is delighted to be among eight winners receiving a boost from the Open Data Fund which encourages innovation in the reuse of data on the Open Data NI portal.

Our £5,000 grant from the overall £40,000 fund will be used to commission effective and attractive data visualisation to augment our existing work in tackling online disinformation around COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, FactCheckNI has produced nearly 50 fact checks and explainer articles focussed on COVID-19, many utilising open data about testing, deaths and vaccines.

During this global health emergency, the ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and disinformation can mean the difference between life and death. The quality and accuracy of the information and data we consume matters on an immediate and global scale.

FactCheckNI’s executive director Dr Orna Young explains:

“Trusted and accessible data has an important role to play in countering mis/disinformation. As fact checkers, we understand that the publication of fact check articles is of limited value without a strong effort to disseminate this trusted information.

“Last year we collaborated with undergraduate students at Ulster University who demonstrated how talented and imaginative designers could bring the data we write about to life.

“This investment will help us boost our impact and develop our design capacity by working with these experts in data visualisation to ensure we most effectively communicate our existing and newly produced fact checked articles focussed on COVID-19 and data.”

FactCheckNI will extend its existing relationship with data visualisation specialists at Ulster University’s School of Communication and Media to bring the stories behind data to life and convey them in engaging and shareable graphics that will complement new and existing data-rich articles about COVID-19.

Is full-time paid maternity leave in the UK one of the lowest in Europe?

CLAIM: The provision of full-time (equivalent) maternity pay in the UK is among the lowest in Europe.

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE. In an OECD report, the UK ranked 9th lowest of 33 European countries for “full-rate equivalent” paid maternity leave. Including home care leave (childcare), the UK ranks 4th lowest in Europe. Continue reading Is full-time paid maternity leave in the UK one of the lowest in Europe?

Is public spending in Northern Ireland 45% higher than in Ireland?

CLAIM: Public spending in Northern Ireland is 45% higher than it is in Ireland.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. Using public expenditure as a measure of public spending, total public expenditure per person in Northern Ireland in 2015–16 was 10% higher than in Ireland. More recently, it was lower than in Ireland. As a part of national output (GDP), government consumption contributed an estimated 45% more, per person, in Northern Ireland than it did in Ireland. But government consumption excludes aspects of spending, like investment in roads and social welfare. Continue reading Is public spending in Northern Ireland 45% higher than in Ireland?

Does Ireland have the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone?

CLAIM: Ireland has the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone.

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE. According to the most recent annual figures, Ireland has the highest annual rate of GDP growth (both as an absolute figure and if adjusted for the size of population) of the 19 countries in the Eurozone. However, Ireland is ranked lower if other economic measures, such as Gross National Income are considered. Continue reading Does Ireland have the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone?

COVID-19 vaccinations: fertility and pregnancy

The issue of how COVID-19 vaccines may impact fertility and/or pregnancy continues to be live. Health Minister Robin Swann told the Stormont health committee on 14 January 2021, that an anti-vaccination group targeted young female healthcare staff outside vaccination centres, saying COVID-19 vaccination would affect their fertility. He added that this message was “quite negative, quite wrong, potentially quite damaging”. This was also reported in the local media. Continue reading COVID-19 vaccinations: fertility and pregnancy