AFP Fact Check: How to Verify Information Online
2024 Finalist

AFP Fact Check: How to Verify Information Online

Agence France-Presse

Paris, France

Category Video

Overview of this campaign

"AFP Fact Check: how to verify information online" shares tips and examples from AFP's digital investigation team with other journalists and the public on AFP’s YouTube channel and other social networks. 

Launched in October 2022, new episodes of the series are published weekly on YouTube in three languages. The playlists, which are known as  "AFP Fact Check: Vrai ou faux? Comment vérifier une info" in French and "AFP Fact Check: ¿Cómo verificar lo que es verdadero o falso?" in Spanish, have enjoyed a steadily growing audience, especially since embracing the YouTube "Short" format in the summer of 2023.

The content of "How to verify…" in any language consists of two types of videos: online tutorials with start-to-finish demonstrations of fact-checking tools and techniques, and case studies -- both short and long -- where AFP journalists describe the process behind specific debunks they've published online.

As agency journalists, the vast majority of AFP reporters speak to audiences through the filter of subscribers, but the videos in "How to verify…" are a departure from this, with digital investigation journalists directly addressing the viewer.

They speak to you from their desks in Dakar, Belgrade, Bangkok and Paris, explaining in simple terms the work they do each day to verify content they see online.

In an effort to make the videos as accessible as possible -- not only to today's online audiences but also to all of our teams around the world -- we put the camera (phone) in the journalists' own hands, embracing some of the user-friendly "influencer" equipment that has made video ubiquitous on the net. 

The crucial visuals -- most often screen recordings and screen grabs -- are added and animated in Paris by one of three editors dedicated to the task. The challenge here is to show viewers efficiently and clearly where journalists click, how they search, and what proof they look for when dealing with a piece of information on the internet.


Results for this campaign

As of January 2024, we have published 141 videos (50 in English, 53 in French and 38 in Spanish), including tutorials on geolocation, video verification, translation tools and various image search techniques.

Today, each new video in any language can expect thousands of views within its first day of publication, as well as thousands more over the course of its long life on AFP's channels.

We've covered sensitive debunks in long-format case studies, from a perennial meme making false claims about images dating back to the start of the Syrian war to a look at how AFP journalists contacted their colleagues on the ground in Bucha, Ukraine, to debunk claims of a staged massacre. 

Our more recent focus on the YouTube "shorts" format has allowed us on several occasions to produce videos linked to the news of the day. Our inaugural short was filmed in Washington DC and looked at how AI imagery was subtly mixed into a campaign ad for Ron DeSantis. It was instantly popular and today has over 26k views. 

Since they deal with the "how" of online verification, all of the videos remain relevant beyond the news cycle.

The case studies in long and short format show how the techniques demonstrated in tutorials have been put to use to get to the truth behind a viral post. Occasionally techniques are combined, such as when our Slovak journalist used both reverse-image search and geolocation to show that a viral video of a tank was actually from Sweden, not on the border between Poland and Ukraine.  

So far we have shot videos in 20 of AFP's bureaus and the number continues to grow, with our next two coming from Hong Kong and Jakarta. 

By making our journalists ambassadors of online sleuthing, we hope to empower viewers to identify for themselves the reliable information contained within the vast expanse of the internet.




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