Verificat celebrates its fifth anniversary by carrying out 'fact-checking' in Catalan

Five years ago, coinciding with International Fact-Checking Day, the Verificat association was launched in Catalonia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 23:08
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Verificat celebrates its fifth anniversary by carrying out 'fact-checking' in Catalan

Five years ago, coinciding with International Fact-Checking Day, the Verificat association was launched in Catalonia. Thus was born the first non-profit platform dedicated to data verification in Catalan and from Catalonia.

The organization was born with the aim of fighting misinformation by verifying the veracity of the statements of political representatives. In this way, in 2019 and on the occasion of the municipal elections in Barcelona, ​​the platform dedicated itself to denying the hoaxes that were circulating on the networks.

Over time, the association expanded its objectives with important episodes such as covid-19 or the rise of artificial intelligence. "Scientific verification, for example, became part of our daily lives in 2020 with the outbreak of the pandemic," explains the director and co-founder of Verificat, Alba Tobella.

What began as a political fact-checking has evolved and expanded its repository. As well as in the detection of noise in social networks and educational action.

"In five years, we have seen how citizens have become much more aware of the need to defend democracy from misinformation, as well as information saturation, and we are more convinced than ever of our mission," declares the co-founder of Verificat, Lorenzo Marini.

One of its most notable projects is the union of Verificat with Kinzen (on Spotify) to detect climate misinformation in some of its podcasts. Through artificial intelligence, more than 10,000 hours of emissions were monitored, which were reflected in an exhaustive report on the state of the matter. Today, the platform has detected more than 200 accounts on Instagram, Telegram, TikTok and X that, daily, spread disinformation of all kinds.

For example, in 2020, as the pandemic progressed, hoaxes about foreigners carrying the virus increased exponentially. In this context, Verificat promoted a repository against hate speech against migrants, one of the groups most affected by misinformation.

In the coming months, the platform will promote a new international project designed to work on media literacy. In addition to combating hate speech among young people in vulnerable situations, especially from migrant groups.

On the other hand, Verificat also wanted to cover the educational and media literacy branch. In 2020, the Desfake project emerged with the aim of turning a group of high school students into verifiers. Since then, more than 2,000 students and 200 teachers have benefited from the teaching materials and resources offered by the program.

What began as a pioneering test in a center in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat has now been developed in ten institutes in Barcelona for this 2023-24 academic year. "School is one of the great battlefields for a society that is more resistant and resilient to misinformation," says Marini, who expresses Verificat's intention to also make the leap to primary education.

In addition, the association has the "Teen Fact-Checking Network Scholarship for 10 young people from across the state to learn how to fact-check news and publish their research on Instagram and TikTok."

Likewise, Verificat works on other projects such as SUM, a network of volunteers over 65 years old who come together to train those around them in the fight against disinformation. All this, through strategies to detect scams and rumors that circulate on the Internet.

Currently, Verifica has more than 1,000 registered verifications and is the only fact-checking platform in Catalonia. On the other hand, it is recognized by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), the European Fact-Checking Standards Network (EFCSN), the European Observatori dels Mitjans Digitals (EDMO) and Iberifier.

In addition to this, it also has a WhatsApp community of more than 800 people, 18,500 followers on X, more than 5,500 on Instagram and more than 1,400 newsletter subscribers.