German expert: It's difficult to verify news in which facts are mixed with opinions

German expert: It's difficult to verify news in which facts are mixed with opinions

News stories in which facts are mixed with opinions, as well as photos and videos that were first shared in closed messaging apps (WhatsApp, Telegram), are the most difficult to verify, Stefan Voss, a fact checker at the German Press Agency (dpa), has said in an interview with Ukrinform.

"Especially difficult to verify are news stories in which factual claims and opinions are strongly mixed. Furthermore, it is often a technical problem to determine the origin of a photo or video. Many recordings were first shared in closed messenger services (WhatsApp, Telegram) and only later distributed via open networks like Twitter or Facebook. This makes it almost impossible to determine who the author of a photo or video is," Voss said.

He said that dpa fact checkers mostly check statements of prominent persons such as politicians or claims spread by users in the social networks. In particular, it is quite common that invented quotations are attributed to a specific person, Voss said.

"In the social networks we encounter above all such false claims which are spread with the aim of unsettling people or stirring up their anger. We observe this phenomenon in many European countries. Since the coronavirus pandemic has started, sometimes life-threatening advice is spread via networks such as Facebook, YouTube or Telegram," the German expert said.

According to him, it is the task of journalists to expose false claims in the social networks; therefore every journalist should be able to apply the basic skills of digital research and verification.

"A large number of fakes can still be discovered in the future with these basic techniques," Voss said.

He added that verification means constant learning, including in view of the growing number and technical perfection of deep fakes.


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