New fact-checking platform aims to fight 'fake news' in Catalan politics

Verificat is Catalonia's first service dedicated to matching facts and stats

The homepage of Verificat's newly-launched website
The homepage of Verificat's newly-launched website / Daniel Wittenberg

Daniel Wittenberg | Barcelona

April 3, 2019 04:57 PM

A team of Barcelona-based journalists have launched a digital fact-checking service aimed at fighting 'fake news' in Catalan politics.

Inspired by an award-winning Mexican website, Verificat is the first "independent and not-for-profit" platform of its kind in Catalonia.

"The spread of misinformation has become a threat to democracy around the world," they said on the launch of the project on Tuesday.

"Catalonia is no exception, especially amid the polarization that surrounds the pro-independence process. Our goal is to combat misinformation without distinction of political colors," they added.

Mayoral race

For its first three months, the project will concentrate on the Barcelona mayoral election and trial a seven-point fact-verification plan.

They intend to check claims made by candidates against official or specialist statistics, as well as curb the spread of any fake news on social networks that is judged to have been designed to confuse or manipulate local voters.

Verification process

The fact-checking unit is led by a young trio of former news agency foreign correspondents in Latin America, who all studied journalism at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, assisted by verified data expert group Storydata.

They also propose to encourage candidates to cite the sources of their assertions more clearly before ultimately classifying each statement as true, misleading, false or unverifiable.

Any member of the public can submit a suspicious or viral claim to the Verificat team via email, social media messages or WhatsApp.

They are supported by the Journalists Association of Catalonia and Ramon Llull University.