Facebook Sets Aside $1M Apiece for Fact-Checking, Local Newsrooms During Coronavirus Pandemic

Grants go to the International Fact-Checking Network; Lenfest Institute for Journalism/Local Media Association

Grants of up to $5,000 apiece will be given to local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada - Credit by mediaphotos/iStock
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Facebook is putting some bucks behind its effort to ensure that news on its platform is accurate and plentiful during the coronavirus pandemic.

The social network kicked off a $1 million grant program to help the International Fact-Checking Network boost its capacity during the crisis.

Head of Facebook integrity partnerships Keren Goldshlager and Orlando Watson, who works on strategic partner development, integrity partnerships and news policies, said in a blog post, “As the impact of Covid-19 has spread around the world, our independent third-party fact-checking partners have been debunking hoaxes across dozens of countries and languages. This work is a key piece of our multipronged strategy to reduce the spread of misinformation on our platforms, and it has never been more important.”

Money from the grant will be used to support proposals including: translation of fact-checks from native languages to different languages; production of multimedia about Covid-19, including videos infographics and podcasts; working with health experts for evidence-based and scientific coverage; audience development initiatives using formats such as offline or interactive communications; and supporting public authorities with reliable information for better communication about Covid-19.

IFCN director Baybars Orsek said in the blog post, “This timely investment in fact-checking will be instrumental in supporting the fact-checking organizations working around the clock on the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance and the International Fact-Checking Network’s verified signatories. The IFCN has demonstrated its ability to lead the largest collaboration effort on the biggest outbreak in our century, and Facebook’s support is welcomed by the fact-checking community.”

IFCN associate director and coordinator of the Covid-19 collaborative project Cristina Tardáguila added, “The fact-checking community has been working very hard, day and night, since January to point out falsehoods about the new coronavirus. Social media platforms have a responsibility to combat this type of misinformation. It is great to see that Facebook is willing to support the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.”

Facebook also revealed a $1 million grant program, in which the Facebook Journalism Project is teaming up with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to get funds to local news organizations in the U.S. and Canada covering Covid-19.

Dorrine Mendoza, who works on news partnerships for Facebook; Lenfest Institute for Journalism CEO Jim Friedlich; and LMA CEO Nancy Lane said in a blog post that grants of up to $5,000 apiece will be given to local newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada to cover unexpected costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic, such as tools enabling employees to work remotely and increasing coverage to ensure that their communities are properly informed.

The Facebook Journalism Project is working with News Media Canada and The Independent News Challenge to advise on how best to reach journalists in remote communities across Canada.

Facebook vice president of global news partnerships Campbell Brown said in the blog post, “Journalists in local communities are working around the clock to ensure that people have timely information to keep them safe. Lenfest and the Local Media Association will help us quickly provide support for this critical reporting.”

Friedlich added, “Local news enterprises have responded with superb, real-time, comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, but many newsrooms are resource-constrained just when our communities need us most. The grants announced today are designed to provide rapid-response assistance for the coverage of this fast-moving news story. Our focus is on need, speed and scope—helping as many news organizations as we can, as quickly as we can.”

And Lane said, “Covering coronavirus at the local level is a struggle for many small-to midsized publishers who are already resource-challenged. These grants will go a long way to help them provide vital information to their communities. We are thrilled to be part of this program and very grateful to the Facebook Journalism Project for funding this important work.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.