Nearly half of Latvian residents login to Facebook daily. Just as many watch YouTube videos. Every fifth uses Instagram and about 60,000 people regularly post on Twitter, according to the audience research by Kantar TNS. Political parties are no exception and are actively promoting themselves before upcoming Latvian parliamentary elections in October, 2018. Country’s anti-corruption bureau (KNAB) is tasked with monitoring the political spending on social networks.
Re:Baltica, together with the leading Latvian newsrooms, is starting our own social media monitoring project. We believe that this is important because, unlike with traditional political advertising, it is much more difficult to determine who pays for what on social media and what kind of information is being shared.
Our project has three main goals:
- Catch fake news stories and reveal their creators;
- Monitor and verify social media political posts (as long as it is possible);
- Summarize and analyze election campaign ads.
In order to accomplish that, we have already asked you to install the Ad Collector plugin, which will show you all political ads on Facebook that target you. On the other end, we will see the accumulated data on parties targeting Latvian residents (not on an individual level, just pooled data). If you have not installed the plugin, please do. It is very simple. Here’s a short instruction video (in Latvian or Russian). Once a week we will be publish all the political ads we have collected.
Using this data, we will also publish weekly trends on what have been the main stories on social media during the past week and expand the most important of them in in-depth articles. On our website, www.rebaltica.lv , we will publish a blacklist of pages that are suspected of distributing fake or unverified news, or clickbait links that advertise a political party without explicitly stating so.
We have also introduced our fact-checking game www.4facts.org (www.faktiem.lv). There anyone can help verifying facts as well as report news items that you find suspicious.
We would like to thank all of you who have sent us screenshots and links to suspicious websites and/or dubious online profiles. This information is important because it allows us to see a bigger picture which would otherwise be difficult to do. Keep them coming at firstname.lastname@example.org. We guarantee your anonymity. Look for our articles using hashtags #vēlēšanas2018 and #DFRLab on Facebook and Twitter.
Inga Spriņģe, Kristīne Žilde-Krēvica, Madara Eihe, Matīss Rihards Vilcāns
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