Cekfakta, the Inner Workings of Electoral Fact Checkers



Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A room at Google Indonesia’s headquarters located at the Pacific Century Place’s 45th floor in South Jakarta suddenly turned quiet with 48 people locking their eyesight to two monitors that were airing the second presidential debate between Jokowi and Prabowo Subianto on Sunday, February 17.

    “Get ready, the first segment is about to start,” Independent Journalist Association’s (AJI) Ratna Aryanti cued to fact-checkers participating in the Cekfakta.com, which is a program meant to test and verify the accuracy of facts mentioned by presidential candidates in the debate.

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    The fact-checking program is a collaboration between 24 mainstream media, including Tempo, initiated by AJI, Indonesian Cyber Media Association, Indonesia Anti-Slander Society, Google News Initiative, and FirstDraft. However, the fact check program was only participated by 17 media this time.

    Cekfakta also involves the role of experts in the field of energy, food security, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources, parallel to the debate’s theme. This panel of expert originates from members of non-government organizations.

    How the team works

    Cekfakta members swiftly take extensive notes of the programs presented by both presidential candidates followed with a verification process. The verification is then handed to eight experts to further score the accuracy of the claims.

    This verified report is then listed in a shared online worksheet that can be accessed by every fact checkers to be included and published in the form of a news report from media partners.

    “The data that we present must be accurate considering that the information will be a public reference,” said M. Ikbal Damanik, Auriga researcher on Monday, February 18.

    Cekfakta members were visually more focused once Jokowi handed Prabowo with his data, such as when Jokowi mentioned the 360-hectare land owned by Prabowo in Aceh and East Kalimantan. This statement must be scrutinized by Cekfakta members as it would be the main question asked to the team’s panel of experts.

    Ikbal said that Auriga’s past records confirmed that Prabowo does indeed own eight coal mine companies, palm oil plantation, and industrial forest located in both East Kalimantan and Aceh, as Jokowi mentioned.

    According to Cekfakta.com initiator Wahyu Dyatmika, this program is the media’s attempt to provide the public with information regarding the truth behind a presidential candidate’s statement.

    “This is proof that media can work in collaboration for the public’s interest,” said Wahyu Dyatmika, who is also the Editor in Chief for Tempo.co.

    Asia-Pacific Google News Lab Coordinator Irene Jay Liu was also impressed by the media movement which she considers; “a great practice to fight disinformation in the digital era,” said Irene.