Climate Feedback is one of three websites under the Science Feedback umbrella that fact-checks media coverage of climate change. The website asks climate scientists in relevant fields to assess the credibility and accuracy of media stories related to climate change. The website published its first review in 2015. The website was founded by Emmanuel Vincent, who has a PhD in Oceanography & Climate from Université Pierre et Marie Curie.
Type of site
Vincent partnered with the non-profit Hypothes.is, who created a free Internet browser plug-in that allows users to make sentence-level comments on web pages, to create an evaluation of content. Climate Feedback, an application of the Hypothes.is platform to climate science communication, allows active climate scientists to add comments.
In 2016, Climate Feedback, a scientist-led effort to “peer review” climate journalism, raised about $30,000 with Indigogo crowdfunding, which bolstered one of the efforts to conduct fact-checking via web annotation. Others like PolitiFact have also been experimenting with annotation methods for politicians’ posts on the blogging platform Medium, using a $140,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
Climate scientist Emmanuel Vincent noticed climate change discussions in Europe were somewhat politically polarized before he left France a few years before, and he found it more polarized when he came to America. Vincent, now a project scientist with UC Merced’s Center for Climate Communication and the leader of ClimateFeedback.org, wanted to see if discussions more rooted in science would defuse animosity and change conversations. He studied that idea by having scientists review and comment on science journalism, using an app that lets all readers see their annotations. 25 to 30 scientists participating in Vincent’s study were asked to look at and annotate articles about climate change in major publications, such as the Los Angeles Times.
In 2017, climate blogger Dana Nuccitelli at The Guardian, in an article on climate bloggers, mentioned that Climate Feedback "is a highly respected and influential resource." The website fact-checks one or two stories per week. Typically, a story will be reviewed by five or six scientists, but on one story, there were 17 reviewers. According to Climate Feedback, each reviewer has to hold a PhD in a relevant discipline, and have at least one published article on climate science or climate change impacts in a top-tier peer-reviewed scientific journal within the last three years. The website has identified errors in content published by outlets, such as Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Mail on Sunday and New York magazine. The website is included in the database of global fact-checking sites by the Reporters’ Lab at Duke University.
As a project of the Science Feedback non-profit organization, Climate Feedback reviews are used in Facebook's fact-checking partnership to identify false news and show them lower in News Feed.
When HealthNewsReview.org announced it was shutting down in December 2019, it went mostly unnoticed, because two new crowdsourced, fact-checking projects for debunking false claims about health have emerged. The first is HealthFeedback.org, a fact-checking site that asks experts to review factual claims about health. HealthFeedback is an outgrowth of ClimateFeedback.org, a fact-checking project overseen by the nonprofit organization Science Feedback, which debunks false claims about the climate and annotates news articles about science. As a fact-checking method, crowdsourcing doesn’t have a long history of success, because previous Wikipedia-style efforts have struggled to incentivize users and build a community. Crowdsourcing fact checks from experts certified in a subject could be promising, particularly it is enhanced by partnerships with technology platforms.
In September 2019, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a network of more than 75 non-partisan fact-checking organizations in more than 40 countries, announced it would investigate whether Health Feedback, an arm of Science Feedback, had violated the IFCN’s Code of Principles’ commitment to non-partisanship and fairness in an August 2019 fact check of a claim in a video on Facebook. Based on the independent review, IFCN Director Baybars Orsek, Associate Director Cristina Tardaguila, and the IFCN Advisory Board concluded as follows:
The findings of Science Feedback’s fact-check were based on publicly available scientific evidence and as not the result of any bias. The claim that “abortion is never medically necessary” is false and inaccurate. The process used by Science Feedback to select the original claim to review was sound and not the result of any systemic bias, and a review of the 10 last fact-checks indicates no systemic bias in the selection of claims to check. The failure to declare to their readers that two individuals who assisted Science Feedback, not in writing the fact-check but in reviewing the evidence, had positions within advocacy organizations, and the failure to clarify their role to readers, fell short of the standards required of IFCN signatories. This has been communicated to Science Feedback.
- "At Climate Feedback, scientists encourage better science reporting. But who is listening?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "Why climate change is the easiest news to fake". Axios. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "This fact-checker got several news outlets to correct a false story about a mini-Ice Age". Poynter Institute. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- Wanucha, Genevieve (December 3, 2014). "Improving media coverage of climate science". phys.org. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
- Wilner, Tamar (May 25, 2016). "Annotation might be the future of fact-checking". Poynter. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
- UC Merced University Communications (July 7, 2015). "UC Merced Connect: Climate scientist leads effort to shape national dialogue". Merced Sun-Star. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
- Nuccitelli, Dana (November 29, 2017). "New study uncovers the 'keystone domino' strategy of climate denial". theguardian.com. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
- "About us - Climate Feedback". Climate Feedback. 2015-05-01. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "Scientists, get onboard!". Climate Feedback. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
- "Fact-checking triples over four years - Duke Reporters' Lab". Duke Reporters' Lab. 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "Facebook adds 2 new fact-checking partners". Axios. 2019-04-17.
- "Fact-Checking on Facebook: What Publishers Should Know". Facebook. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
- Funke, Daniel (March 14, 2019). "Is expert crowdsourcing the solution to health misinformation?". Poynter. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
- "IFCN concludes its investigation into Science Feedback complaint". Poynter. 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
- Science Feedback Official website
- Climate Feedback Official website
- Health Feedback Official website
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