Fact checking Northern Ireland: FactCheckNI continues to grow

Fact checking Northern Ireland: FactCheckNI continues to grow
An update by FactCheckNI
20 May 2019

This summer FactCheckNI is four years old. We are Northern Ireland’s first, and only, fact-checking service. We have trained thousands of people in fact checking and critical thinking. We have published dozens of fact-check articles, in a bid to ensure that accuracy prevails and informs the social and political discourse of the region.

While misinformation has always been an issue, its magnification by social media platforms means that the concept of “fake news”, and its impact, have become central in the currency of our debates and discussions. Efforts to challenge misinformation have had to adapt and grow in response to it. We’ve grown too — from an idea discussed over coffee to an established and recognised fact-checking organisation, both locally and internationally.

Our early and formative conversations with pioneers in the fact-checking world were instrumental in shaping our ethos and approach. We were fortunate to be able to tap into the expertise and guidance of some of the key thinkers and fact-checking practitioners. We also became acutely aware of the unique climate we would be operating in. Fact checking in Northern Ireland required a tailored approach — and our commitment to ensuring critical thinking is embedded as part of wider community building and development efforts is evidenced in the training we deliver.

We were fortunate to have been the recipient of funding from the Building Change Trust’s Civic Activism programme between 2015 and 2018. We are currently working as a full partner organisation of a research and development project, Co-Inform, led by Stockholm University. The Co-Inform project aims to create socio-technical solutions with citizens, journalists, and policymakers. It is a Horizon 2020 Programme at the European Commission. More recently, we joined Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme, as part of the social media company’s efforts to minimise the spread of misinformation on the platform.

In response to the growth of our focus, the three founders — Allan, Orna and Enda — decided that it was time to assess the nature of the organisational structure — to move beyond FactCheckNI as a project or partnership, into a fully fledged organisation in its own right. To that end, in April 2019, FactCheckNI was established as a Community Interest Company (CIC). Together with our advisory group and the Board of Directors, we believe this is an opportunity for FactCheckNI CIC to grow and develop our work here and within the wider fact-checking community.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked with us and supported us to date: our funders; advisory group; interns; those who’ve availed of our training services; critical friends; and anyone who’s directed a claim our way and/or shared our work on social media platforms. We want to grow FactCheckNI CIC and ensure that our work has as much impact as possible. We are excited about where the coming years will take us, but also committed to ensuring that we uphold the standards of fact checking with a firm basis in the development of critical thinking skills that put us on this road back in 2015.

Thank you for your continued support!