Have you heard of the condition where people find it hard to meet and interact with new people? It’s not about being shy or an introvert; the condition is called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). As someone who has been coping with SAD for a while now, I was pleasantly surprised by my recent experience at GlobalFact 10, hosted by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) in Seoul, South Korea.
Although my anxiety levels were high as I walked into the conference hall on the first day, it soon dissipated. With a roomful of fact-checkers from across the globe, I felt at home. It was reassuring to listen to the new IFCN Director Angie Drobnic Holan talk about the challenges faced by fact-checkers in India and the collaborative efforts needed to strengthen the community.
As a fact-checker, I was super excited when Google unveiled its new updates on Fact Check Explorer at the conference. With reverse image search enabled inside the tool, it’s easier now to get more insights about an image and its history. I’m hopeful that this will save us a lot of time and anguish in our day-to-day work!
While the three-day conference had many insightful sessions, I was deeply moved by Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro’s session, where she spoke about her fascinating book Putin’s Trolls: On the Frontlines of Russia’s Information War Against the World. While the story reveals the vulnerability of fact-checkers, it also shines light on the huge impact that we can make.
Sadly, the global conference didn’t have a dedicated panel discussion or expert talk on combatting health misinformation. The public health challenge still remains largely unacknowledged, despite our terrifying shared experiences during the pandemic.
Perhaps, that makes our work at First Check all the more important. As a health fact-checking initiative, First Check has been leading the way in informing and educating people about the perils of health misinformation. We have a long way to go. But as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Stay safe and stay informed with First Check. Kamsahamnida!
First Check, India