In the second edition of the FactcheckEU newsletter, we have a sourceless quote from Charles Darwin's grandfather about Spanish colonialism.
Hello, this is Jules Darmanin from FactcheckEU, with another week of fresh misinformation for you. But first, a correction. In a section of the previous newsletter, dedicated to hoaxes around environmental activist Gerta Thunberg, I wrote that she didn't receive the Golden Kamera, a German award. She actually received it. Now, back to this week:
Story of the week : Viral rankings
Rankings are an effortless way of harvesting clicks. For instance, if I give you this link to a video of a Slovakian youtuber ranking all the 2019 Eurovision songs, there's a good chance you want to click on it. I know you do. (Here's an interesting short podcast about this.)
That's why an astounding number of outlets, including the Financial Times or La Repubblica, used Numbeo, a Serbian website, as a source for their ranking of countries and cities.
Numbeo ranks everything: crime, pollution, cost of life, traffic, you name it. But the website has only one way of ranking places: by surveying random people on the Internet, which means that Numbeo doesn't rank crime or pollution, but the bare perception of crime and pollution. With the additional caveat that anyone can be surveyed for any place. Before writing this newsletter, I answered a survey about pollution in Accra, Ghana.
This is not harmless, as we found that Numbeo and its unreliable methodology have had consequences on the political discourse. Our partner Viralgranskaren has found a viral Facebook post claiming that Sweden was the most dangerous country in Europe. Its source: Numbeo's dubious "Crime Index". You can read our full report here.
The week on FactcheckEU
🇩🇪 In Germany 🇩🇪
Last week, we discussed hoaxes on Yellow Vests protests going around in France. It turns out that other hoaxes about the French movement are circulating, this time in Germany. Correctiv debunked them with the help of CheckNews.
🇮🇹 In Italy 🇮🇹
Comparing your country to other countries in order to make your point is one of the oldest political tricks in the book. Matteo Salvini used it and claimed that Italy was the only country to have Roma camps.Pagella Politica debunked this outright lie.
Nathalie Loiseau, Emmanuel Macron's former minister and head of the government-backed Renaissance list claimed that the German Green party was receiving funds from Volkswagen. That was true until 2017, but not anymore, reports Checknews.
What our partners are working on
- 🇪🇸 In Spain, Maldito Bulo had to debunk a strange hoax, shared by a Congressman from the right-wing People's Party: No, there's no proof that Charles Darwin's grandfather praised Spain for how the country treated indigenous people.
- 🇬🇷Ellinika Hoaxes wrote about a 2013 video which found its way to Greece two years after having been retweeted by Donald Trump. The video presents a Syrian radical Islamist cleric destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary, but the articles in Greek claim that this man is "an immigrant".
What's going on elsewhere
- Facebook announced a series of change on its platform to fight misinformation, with a focus on groups.
- Anti-vaccination rumors are spreading on WhatsApp in India, where many people share misleading information found on US-based websites or Facebook groups.
- Here's a pretty interesting thread on how misinformation on WhatsApp and local Facebook groups fueled an anti-refugee mob in the German town of Cottbus.
Have a great week,