Dismislab follows the guidelines set by the International Factchecking Network (IFCN).
- Selecting claims for factchecking: We actively monitor Bangladesh’s current affairs, contemporary news content and sensational or controversial contents that are viral on social media platforms. We try and factcheck data, information, images, and videos of such content and strive to inform our readers whether they are true or false. Selection of a certain claim for factchecking depends on several factors. We ask if the claim has an impact; whether it has gone viral; whether it threatens a particular individual or group; and ask if it poses any kind of danger to people’s lives, especially marginalised and vulnerable communities.
If at least one of the answers to these questions is a yes, we proceed to factcheck it.
- Sifting out the main source of the claim: After selecting a claim, we try to ascertain its main source. We try to find out where and when the claim was first made. The credibility of that primary source often plays an important role in factchecking. For example, when we want to verify a particular piece of information from a news report, we look for the source it came from and check the credibility of that source. In case of verifying a picture or a video, we try to find out its first publisher and the information that accompanied it at that time. We use a number of open-source tools for this. While factchecking information disseminated by individuals, we try to confirm the credibility of those individuals and the process in which they claim to have acquired that information. We also crosscheck their sources, purposes and interests behind publishing and circulating that particular piece of information.
- Contacting the sources: When the primary sources are individuals or organisations, we contact them to find out the details relevant to that claim. We try to acquire video or transcript corroborating the claim to ascertain the context and manner in which the original claim was made. In cases of reports or data points, we contact such agencies that are able to point us towards such contents.
- Collection of evidence and information to determine authenticity: We collect evidence, documents, records, images, videos from independent sources when trying to ascertain the original source and its authenticity, as well as the veracity of the information gathered through it. Some cases may require collection of survey data, research report or other records. In those cases, we also deliberate upon the reputation, professionalism, acceptability, accuracy, appropriateness of the research methodology, and any possible conflict of interest of the person or organisation behind the survey or research. But if we find that the individual or organisation does not measure up to those standards, we reject their work (survey, research or record) as evidence. We hold up the claim against the evidence we gather, and the evidence itself evinces whether the claim is true or false.
- Expert advice and opinion: Often, we have to rely on expert knowledge in a particular topic, besides documentary evidence. We do not accept any information received from unknown sources as evidence. We quote only those willing to speak on the record. While selecting experts, we take into account the individual’s acceptability, impartiality, depth of knowledge in the relevant field, and possible conflicts of interest.
- Developing factcheck contents: After going through the mentioned steps, we produce content, based on the evidence obtained, to point towards a certain conclusion. We provide links to the sources mentioned in our content and attach relevant and available documents. The content also mentions how and where we collected the evidence, which enables readers to factcheck those contents for themselves as well.
- Labelling: Our factchecking leads to four kinds of decisions.
False – the claim is fake or untrue.
Distorted – we label an image or video footage as distorted, if it has been doctored.
Misleading – these are claims that are neither completely true, nor completely false; or there is a chance for people to be misled if no other information complements the claim. The claims can be labelled ‘misleading’ if factual information is used, but in an irrelevant context to confuse people.
Unsubstantiated – we label the claim as ‘unsubstantiated’ if it cannot be properly verified with the available evidence or due to lack of evidence.
What we do not factcheck
Dismislab picks the issues to factcheck mostly based on its own monitoring and queries of its audience. We consider two questions while factchecking a claim.
- How impactful it is.
- How much it has spread.
However, we refrain from factchecking certain issues considering the limitation and procedure of the exercise. We do not factcheck the following:
- Unless there is any verifiable data or information, we do not factcheck political partisan comments, no matter how important they are.
- We also do not attempt to factcheck any comment or claim related to religious belief. However, we do factcheck if any verifiable source is mentioned in these comments or claims.
- We are not able to and, therefore, do not verify any conjecture or prediction about the future. Personal opinions, columns, social media posts predicting that something will happen at a certain time are not verifiable. This also includes supernatural prophecies, which cannot be verified. However, we can verify the information or data that is referred to in those opinions or posts. Besides, we can check if predictions by other people are being cited correctly or if references within the predictions are correct and authentic.
- We believe factchecking is different from investigative journalism or research. Therefore, we do not approach to verify or factcheck claims that require extensive investigation or full-fledged research over and beyond what is available as open-source material.
- Sometimes certain pieces of information, referenced openly and seemingly wrong, are not factchecked simply because it is not possible to acquire such information independently or that it is impossible to find out about the claim through unbiased sources.
- We do not factcheck any piece of misinformation or disinformation the moment we see it. We proceed with the exercise only when it has spread widely and might be poised to cause public harm. We believe that factchecking a fake claim before it has gone viral could, in fact, trigger its spread increasing the chances of public harm.
- In such cases, Dismislab’s editorial decision is the final word.