IFCN (international fact checking network) launches new Legal Support Fund for fact-checkers facing harassment

The Legal Support Fund will help cover the costs fact-checkers ensue while facing unlawful charges.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 23, 2022) – The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter has launched a new Legal Support Fund to provide financial assistance to fact-checking organizations that are facing threats of harassment, intimidation and litigation.

The fund is made possible by Meta’s renewed support and Google News Initiative’s yearlong partnership with IFCN.

The Legal Support Fund comes at a critical time for fact-checkers around the world that, despite the harassment they face, continue to adhere to a code of the highest fact-checking principles to debunk false claims. Today, hundreds of fact-checkers from 85 different countries gathered at Oslo Metropolitan University in Oslo, Norway, to discuss the unique challenges they face in an increasingly hostile environment for fact-checkers.

The discussion, which was part of the ninth annual GlobalFact hosted by IFCN, was moderated by IFCN director Baybars Örsek and featured a panel of representatives from Meta.

“Fact-checkers around the world are experiencing harassment and online abuse in different forms and capacities. We are excited to offer a sense of support to organizations facing those challenges on the ground and working toward finding sustainable solutions to navigate increasing attacks on journalism and fact-checking with significant support from Meta and Google News Initiative,” said Örsek.

“We’re thrilled to partner with IFCN on this crucial initiative to protect fact-checkers from harassment and provide the financial support they need to address the unique challenges they face,” said Karishma Shah, News Integrity Program Manager at Meta. “The Legal Support Fund is a critical part of our ongoing effort to support fact-checkers and connect them with resources to mitigate the risks they face as they work to debunk viral misinformation.”

Up to $40,000 is available for each eligible applicant. Selected fact-checking organizations can use the granted funds to hire a media defense lawyer and have representation in disputes directly related to fact-checking or reporting such as issues of defamation, copyright, fair use and licensing.

“It is proving more important than ever for people to access accurate information, and sort facts from fiction in their everyday lives,” said Matt Cooke, Head of Google News Lab at the Google News Initiative. “As part of our ongoing support at the Google News Initiative, we’re hoping this partnership with the IFCN will scale their efforts to a worldwide audience.”

The fund will be administered by the IFCN. All applicants must be signatories of the IFCN’s Code of Principles. Grantees will be selected by a committee from regional and global organizations with legal, journalism, and freedom of press domain expertise. Committee members will review each application for recognized risk that the case could result in imprisonment, bankruptcy and closure.

Applications for the Legal Support Fund will open next month. For more information, visit poynter.org/ifcn.

IFCN launches new Legal Support Fund for fact-checkers facing harassment