Fact-checkers launch Instagram, WhatsApp and telegram stickers to gently warn about false news.

Use some colorful pictures and GIFs to ask family and friends to check their sources and information.

What if Instagram, WhatsApp and telegram had emoticons and GIFs to obviously warn their users concerning false news, false photos and false videos? Well, they don’t. Therefore some fact-checking initiatives around the world developed special stickers to be used instead in these platforms. For now, they appear to be a nice (and colorful) way to tell friends and family they’re spreading low-quality information — and should think twice before sharing content.

Teyit, in Turkey, announced last week a group of 16 purple, green and yellow stickers. Twelve are in Turkish and 4 are bilingual (in English). One, for example, very straightforwardly asks: “What is your source?” Another one shows a pointing finger with a clear word on the top: “Debunked.” And a 3rd sticker is a plain “This is false” sign, something everyone can simply understand.

Teyit is the newest International Fact-Checking Network member to take this path, believing there has to be a non-hurtful way to tell close friends, parents, distant relatives and colleagues they shared fake news and should stop doing so. Teyit hired the illustrator and sticker designer İdil Keysan and additionally created some moving versions of the collection. The concept was to be ready for Instagram Stories, too.

“During the design process, we paid attention to the stickers’ joyous use”, said Mehmet Atakan Foça, Teyit’s founder. “Even once some people know the real story about a suspicious claim, they still can’t find enough courage to warn their friends, families, relatives — because it could seem offensive. Therefore we had to design stickers not for insulting but for being constructive and entertaining.”

He said the main aim was to force members of WhatsApp groups to be skeptical of claims. “We encourage people with these stickers to ask about the source, to check the information or to look at Teyit’s website before sharing content.”

During its initial 10 days, according to Giphy numbers, Teyit’s collection was viewed on Instagram Stories more than 1million times. Foça said he’s happy about it.
“Stats are excellent,” he said. however he said he’s looking forward to seeing what he calls a boomerang effect within WhatsApp, after having sent the entire collection to more than 2,000 people who have opted-in their WhatsApp contact list.

“We can’t get stats from WhatsApp however we expect to receive stickers back from unexpected sources. Will my grandpa send me our stickers? That would be a very shocking impact,” Foça said.
FactNameh, the Toronto-based Iranian fact-checking platform, was most likely the first to invest in stickers. Back in 2017, Farhad Souzanchi was already active on telegram (Iranians’ main communication platform) and he said he knew stickers were a significant part of conversations on that mobile app. the collection offers 26 options and is in Persian (Farsi).
“We imagined it would be a fun and lighthearted approach for people to discuss the accuracy of claims,” said Souzanchi.

“But we also created some stickers for other uses additionally and included various versions of Mirza’s (the platform impartial judge character) facial expressions: laughing, crying, kisses, etc.”
According to him, in the last 2 years, FactNameh stickers have been used over 11 thousand times. However haven’t felt the “boomerang effect” yet…

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