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Detecting Spanish Climate Misinformation in Audio: Announcing our Partnership with Verificat

The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues of our time, yet mis- and disinformation about global heating continues to be a huge problem. 

A recent study of UK adults found that almost half were unable to correctly identify fake climate crisis news and many were vulnerable to misinformation that hampered efforts to combat its effects. A UN report even said the “deliberate undermining of science” was delaying action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a global issue with drastic consequences.

The problem is particularly challenging when it comes to audio content. Research has found that as many as one in 10 podcasts include false information with few ways for users to report those containing misleading narratives.

It is for this reason that we’re delighted to announce a new partnership with Catalonia-based fact-checkers Verificat and the C3 Centre for Climate Change at Rovira and Virgili University, based in Tarragona, Spain.

Together, we will work to understand different narratives within climate podcasts and to deliver a pilot for efficient, expert-based content moderation and fact-checking that works across podcasting platforms’ content.

Áine Kerr, Kinzen’s chief operating officer said: “We’re delighted that a panel of climate scientists and researchers recognised the exciting potential of pairing our machine-learning technology with environmental experts to help stay ahead of rapidly evolving mis- and disinformation climate narratives.”

Lorenzo Marini, co-founder and co-director of Verificat added: "Podcasts and radio are opinion-shapers, and yet they often escape fact-checking as detecting podcasts misinformation is a well-known challenge. This is why we are thrilled to partner with Kinzen and analyse thousands of hours of podcasting to detect climate misinformation and understand and fact-check its narratives together with the Centre for Climate Change at URV. We will be creating a blueprint for podcast fact-checking and will learn a lot about which tropes the climate change public discourse is manipulated in the Spanish-speaking world"

The partnership is made possible thanks to the Climate Misinformation Grant Program, courtesy of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and Meta. 

Working together to reduce Spanish misinformation 

We’re excited to work on this project because misinformation is a particularly stark problem for Spanish-speaking social media users. 

Researchers last year found that posts made in Spanish are less often and less quickly moderated by social media platforms compared to content posted in English. This leads to false claims and conspiracy theories spreading more quickly among Spanish-speaking populations. 

Podcasts containing misinformation are especially hard for platforms to take action on because of their increasing popularity and the way they are distributed.

This project is one of nine from seven countries selected to receive support by the six-person International Fact-Checking Network expert judging committee. You can read about the others here.

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