With the upcoming elections in Brazil, one question in particular has been voiced: How are we going to fight fake and malicious news?

The answer came in a consortium that was recently launched. The idea was inspired by other initiatives such as CrossCheck, held in France in May 2017, and partnerships with fact-checking agencies during elections in the United Kingdom and Germany last year. First Draft, the American organisation behind this concept, came to Brazil and encouraged us, the media industry, to fight this evil problem, together.

Several Brazilian organisations have committed to fighting fake news together in the months leading up to a national election.
Several Brazilian organisations have committed to fighting fake news together in the months leading up to a national election.

After endless meetings and lots of brainstorming sessions and discussions, 24 media companies are officially working together against misinformation through a collaborative project called Comprova (“Proof”). Our goal is to identify and explain rumours, misinformation, and content manipulation that might influence the 2018 campaign and election. The project will be live August 6.

Why is GaúchaZH a part of it?

For us, one thing is crystal clear: Fake news is not our responsibility. We, professional journalists, don’t publish it and we don’t make it. The real organisations responsible are those that create, publish, and distribute fake news. I would also include in this “responsible” team the platforms where this news is published (like Google, Facebook, and Twitter) — those platforms that are trying to fight it but haven’t done much so far.

Joining this coalition is part of our commitment to journalism. Our part is to keep producing quality content, and we will keep doing it.

First Draft, which came to Brazil with this idea, is a project of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Its director, Claire Wardle, sees this project as an opportunity to create a collaborative culture of content production and investigation with a lasting impact. So do we.

The coalition is under the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism’s (Abraji) coordination and is supported by the Institute for the Development of Journalism (Projor). The Google News Initiative and the Facebook Journalism Project help fund the proposal. The National Association of Newspapers (ANJ), RBMDF Associates, the Harvard University Office in Brazil, Torabit, Ideal H + K Strategies, and Twitter are institutional partners of the initiative.

Here's how it will work: The goal is to identify and combat, in a collaborative way, online misinformation and sophisticated manipulation techniques. Contributors will work together to verify information and then create short texts, cards, graphics, and videos to distribute all of it in accessible and shareable formats.

Each journalist will remain within his original newsroom but be focused daily on the project. The project will have a central command room to organise the workflows. Tools such Slack, Crowdtangle, and NewsWhip will be used and shared.

Coalition participants will undergo continuous training and will have opportunities to share knowledge and expertise. One criterion is that nothing will be published before at least three vehicles agree on the falsity and the checking of the information in question.

The organisations participating are:

  • AFP.
  • Band.
  • BandNews.
  • Canal Futura.
  • Correio do Povo.
  • Exame.
  • Folha de S.Paulo.
  • GaúchaZH.
  • Gazeta Online.
  • Gazeta do Povo.
  • Jornal do Commercio.
  • Metro Brasil.
  • Nexo Jornal.
  • Nova Escola.
  • NSC Comunicação.
  • O Estado de S. Paulo.
  • O Povo.
  • Poder360.
  • Rádio BandNews FM.
  • Rádio Bandeirantes.
  • Revista piauí.
  • SBT.
  • UOL

Finally, the material will be published on the vehicles participating in the proposal and also on the Project Comprova Web site. To spread the word broadly, every publisher in the country, even if not part of the main coalition, will be allowed to publish the content, all under the creative commons license.