December 1, 2016
On March 2, 2014 Kyiv Mohyla Journalism School lecturers, graduates and students, along with the KMA Digital Future of Journalism project launched the Stopfake.org fact checking site. STOP FAKE exposed more than 1000 fake information posts in the 2 ½ years since its inception, and trained more than 10,000 people across Ukraine.
Journalists, editors, IT specialists, translators, all those who cared about the future of Ukraine during this dangerous time of the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine joined the project.
Initially the goal of the project was to verify and refute disinformation and propaganda about events in Ukraine being circulated in the media. Eventually, the project grew into an information hub where all aspects of Kremlin propaganda are examined and analyzed.
The project reviews how propaganda influences Ukraine, and investigates how propaganda impacts on other countries and regions, from Syria and Turkey to the European Union, and countries which once made up the Soviet Union.
The STOP FAKE team of media professionals is continuously growing as the project expands. The team continues to fact-check, de-bunk, edit, translate, research, and disseminate information in ten languages: Russian, English, Spanish, Romanian, Bulgarian, French, Italian, Dutch, Czech and German.
Stop FAKE content is available on the site, www.stopfake.org. Video digests are broadcast online and on local Ukrainian television stations, including the Ukraine Today channel, and radio podcasts are also available online and on social media sites.
In a recent interview with Radio Liberty in Prague, Yevhen Fedchenko, director of Kyiv Mohyla Journalism School, commented that people don’t react to real news, but react to sensational fake news, disinformation, and false statements. Hacking is a tangent to Russian propaganda as well, and contributes to fake news policies.
The project provides a valuable service to Ukraine and the international community. For example, it partners with AMO, the Czech organization that promotes international relations and works with Kyiv Mohyla J-School on a separate project to promote media literacy. An additional project of the Kyiv Mohyla J-School is “Demagogue”, to check on demagogic statements of politicians and to conduct regional training for Ukrainian activists, bloggers and journalists.
Recently there was a story in the prestigious French TV channel “France-24″ that showed how militants in Donbas simulate attacks from the Ukrainian military. This broadcast showed that western media outlets are finally waking up to the false stories planted by the Russian Federation.
In October 2016, the European Parliament deliberated a draft resolution on countering Russian and ISIS propaganda. In particular, the document, recently approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs reads, “Russia aggressively uses a wide range of tools, including special funds, broadcasters in different languages, news agencies, community and religious groups, as well as social networks and Internet trolls”, to promote its messages of propaganda.
This resolution is an indication of the awareness of the threat of the Kremlin’s propaganda, which is undermining institutions such as the EU and provoking chaos in relations between countries.
Fedchenko commented , “The fact of the adoption of such a resolution is also one of the achievements of STOP FAKE, as we had many opportunities to speak to members of the European Parliament, and to present a list of more than 1,000 incidents of manipulated information gathered on our website as evidence . Our recommendations and our suggestions were taken into account and are included in the document”.
STOP FAKE is not supported financially or otherwise by any official Ukrainian organization or government agency. It is an organization of journalists whose primary goal is to verify information, raise media literacy in Ukraine, and establish a clear red line between journalism and propaganda.
Launched as a volunteer project, Stopfake.org has been able to continue its important work thanks to the generosity of crowdfunding and contributions from its readers. STOP FAKE is also supported by the international Renaissance Foundation, the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic, the British Embassy in Ukraine and the Sigrid Rausing Trust. It includes a list of respected Ukrainian journalism professionals.
We invite all of you to join us and support our work, and support us through crowdsourcing listed on our site.
Readers who spot fake information, can send it to the project for a “truth autopsy” at email@example.com.