The COVID-19 vaccination process is key to being able to get the pandemic under control. However, getting access to the coronavirus vaccine is not easy due to a supply shortage and the complex logistics that are needed. Added to this is the misinformation about vaccines, which can cause people to have fear and doubts and turn us against that protection.
False messages abound in public opinion— and especially on social networks— claiming that the vaccines could modify our DNA, linking people’s deaths to their vaccination or indicating that vaccines aren’t really necessary, among many others.
In order for everyone to have access to the best possible information, we need to verify those messages, disprove them when necessary, and get this information to as many people as possible.
That’s why The Voice of Guanacaste will be part of a group of 22 content verification organizations from Latin America, Spain and Portugal to combat misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, led by Chequeado. This project has come about as part of the LatamChequea alliance with the support of the Google News Initiative.
Much of the misinformation crosses borders and is repeated in one country after another, so we are joining forces to combat them more effectively.
What does this alliance want to accomplish?
This project to combat misinformation will be focused on reaching three specific groups according to the approach of each participating media outlet: young people between 18 and 26 years old, elderly people and indigenous populations.
What tools will we give people?
In addition to the work that we’re going to do with these groups, we’ll produce WhatsApp videos and audio messages to reach different audiences with the fact checking that we do, and El Surti, a medium in Paraguay that specializes in visual journalism, will produce a series of illustrations.
Salud con Lupa, a regional medium dedicated to public health issues, will lead the work of identifying those who systematically misinform people to alert our audiences and will produce videos about people who have already received the vaccine, in addition to in-depth work to identify cases in which there are real adverse effects from vaccines to differentiate them from those that are erroneously reported as if they were.
Just like we did when we worked with LatamChequea on COVID-19, we’ll have a database of articles, with fact checking and explanations on the subject, which will allow us fact checkers to reference the work of our colleagues when disinformation appears in the country, and it will be open for journalists, academics and other people who are interested to consult.
In addition, La Silla Vacía, a Colombian medium with extensive experience in working with the academic world, will work together with Dime to generate a network of experts in different areas related to vaccination so fact checkers in the region can consult and disprove misinformation faster when necessary.
Who is participating in the alliance?
The organizations that are going to participate in this project are: Salud con Lupa and EFE Verifica, with a regional scope; Chequeado and Desconfío in Argentina; Bolivia Verifica; Aos Fatos, Estadao and Lupa in Brazil; MalaEspina Check in Chile; ColombiaCheck and La Silla Vacía in Colombia; The Voice of Guanacaste in Costa Rica; EcuadorChequea and GK in Ecuador; Maldita in Spain; Ocote Agency in Guatemala; Animal Político and Verificado in Mexico; El Surti in Paraguay; Convoca, Ojo Público and Verificador de La República in Peru; and the Polígrafo in Portugal.
We hope this work will strengthen the network of fact checkers and the different organizations in the region, which will allow us to respond to circulating misinformation in the fastest and best way possible, and will allow people to access reliable information so they can make decisions based on factual data.
To achieve this, we need everyone’s help. Evaluate what you receive and think before sharing it so you don’t end up transmitting misinformation.