Profile - FactCheckNI
With the EU Referendum (maybe) behind us, attention is turning to the big political and constitutional questions. For this referendum to be a valid and important democratic tool we need to ensure the electorate are well informed.
This is where a service like Fact Check NI comes in.
FactCheckNI is one of a dozen projects awarded grant funding in 2015 from The Trust’s and its Civic Activism Programme.
The Civic Activism Programme, part of our Creative Space for Civic Thinking theme, aims to enable the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector to better facilitate meaningful participation of individuals and communities in decision‐making processes that impact upon their lives.
A survey in 2013 by the Royal Statistical Society and King’s College London showed public opinion is repeatedly off the mark on many issues, including crime, benefit fraud and immigration.
For example, on average, respondents of the survey thought that 24% of the population was Muslim, where in fact it’s 5% in England and Wales, and less than 1% in Northern Ireland.
The difference in perceptions and reality in relation to facts can have a negative impact on intercommunity relations.
One significant case in point was in March 2014, with images taken out of context of a burning Union flag spread through multiple social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
These postings called for protesters to go to Belfast city centre in response to these images. But upon further investigation, the images were not from that day in Belfast, but in fact from Iran and Dublin, taken years previously with the original photos cropped to remove recognisable buildings.
Fact‐checking empowers citizens to participate in their public lives to exercise their most important civil right and responsibility ‐‐ to think critically and make informed decisions.
Their vision is a society that doesn’t allow claims to foster volatile events.
FactChectNI, fact‐check claims for accuracy; they do not question the motivation or intent of the person or organisation making the claim. Their desire is to promote a political debate that is rooted in numbers and facts, rather than stereotypes and prejudice.
They publish all of our fact‐checked claims, regardless if the result validates the claim or not and Media Monitors review online and offline news sources, political party websites, social media, and proceedings from government debates and public meetings.
As well as this, they train members of the public and members of the community and voluntary sector in fact‐checking and anti‐rumour techniques and processes.
The training is provided by Transformative Connections, delivered on‐site throughout Northern Ireland, as well as by webinar. This service is provided free of charge for the duration of the initial project, ending December 2016.
Within the scope of the current Trust funded programme, FactCheckNI aim to be a resource to the 4,836 voluntary and community sector organisations in Northern Ireland Likewise, their topic selection for claims will be those that are more relevant to these organisations.
Their key audiences are focus is community leaders, politicians, voters, community workers, grassroot organisation and newspaper editors. Meanwhile, this public website will benefit inquirers and other fact‐checkers locally and in the rest of the world.
If you’d like to find out more about FactCheckNI, you can check out their website.