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CrossCheck Code of Principles

CrossCheck is committed to the core principles of accuracy, fairness, impartiality, independence, transparency, and ethical responsibility.

Accuracy

All reporting, headlines, images, illustrations, and other visual information used by Partner Organisations must be based on verifiable evidence.

Fairness and Impartiality

A Steering Committee for each CrossCheck project, which consists of five, seven, or nine representatives from Partner Organisations, may review the project output for unintended bias and patterns of bias.

If submitted to CrossCheck for investigation, non-project content from Partner Organisations will be subject to the same scrutiny from the project as any other source.

Decisions on which rumours, claims or content will be investigated are based on the likelihood that they will spread quickly and beyond niche communities.

Independence

CrossCheck operates independently and in the public interest. Operational and editorial decisions are taken collectively, and are not influenced by the commercial or supporting organisations that provide financial or technical support to CrossCheck.

Organisations assisting with the coordination of CrossCheck may from time to time offer direction and guidance based on their fields of expertise. In each case, CrossCheck has no obligation to follow this advice and retains collective autonomy over its projects.

CrossCheck has no political affiliations. Participating journalists will abstain from investigating stories where they have a conflict of interest.

Transparency

Each CrossCheck Report will clearly state how the claim, rumour or content was selected for investigation, based on evidence of expected spread and relevance to the public interest. Each Report will also explain the investigative steps taken, including links to sources where safe and appropriate.

We will correct any errors as soon as we become aware of them. Corrections and amendments will be clearly labelled and explained.

Ethical Responsibility

CrossCheck will avoid giving additional oxygen to rumours and false information circulating only in small, niche communities.

We will take all necessary steps to protect the identity and dignity of individuals who have been misidentified, falsely accused or are in danger of being victimised based on their inclusion in a report.

CrossCheck is not driven by incentives to enhance or attract attention to the CrossCheck projects or its Partner Organisations. We will avoid highlighting deliberately divisive subject matter and using sensational headlines.

 

CrossCheck Editorial Policy

This policy is applicable for all reports published on the CrossCheck website and related social media channels. We recommend that Partner Organisations commit to similar guidelines in their wider reporting of investigations prompted by CrossCheck.

All contributors participating in CrossCheck are committed to the accurate, fair and balanced reporting of stories and claims circulating without context or supporting evidence on the social web.

Our reports are prepared based on the research of multiple contributors from different organisations. These contributors work together to investigate and agree on the veracity and credibility of information that is identified as newsworthy.

For the purposes of CrossCheck, “newsworthy information” is defined as:

A text post, video, image, article, document or other form of online content that:

– Is rapidly gaining prominence across social networks, or

– Has been referenced by at least one influential figure either on- or offline.

An allegation or rumour surfaced from unofficial sources that has the potential to either:

– Impact public discourse.

– Cause harm.

– Fuel division.

– Disrupt.

– Confuse.

Footage and/or eyewitness accounts relating to an unexpected event that affects members of the public, such as:

– Environmental catastrophe.

– Terror incidents.

No report will be published to the public-facing CrossCheck HQ website without at least three Partner Organisations agreeing with the verification steps taken, the conclusions drawn and the overall veracity of the reporting.

 

Objectivity

Participants must use the same standard and methodology for every investigation.

CrossCheck participants will:

  • Select stories and claims for investigation from all sides of the political spectrum, without unfairly concentrating on one party or argument.
  • Respond to questions or requests from the public without bias or assumption.

All Partner Organisations acknowledge that their own non-project output (including news reports, social media posts and research papers) is subject to the same scrutiny and could be selected for investigation by the CrossCheck.

 

Collaboration

All participants are expected to proactively support each other and collaborate on:

  • Decisions to investigate.
  • Decisions to publish.
  • Devising innovative ways to achieve reach and impact.

Strategic Silence & Responsible Publishing

In cases where the focus of an investigation is a deliberate falsehood, a conspiracy, or a coordinated effort to undermine, we may:

  • Withhold a public report.
  • Share findings only with necessary stakeholders, alerting them to specific threats without further amplification.

In cases where a public report is deemed valuable and appropriate, participants must take care to include only accurate information in the headline and text. Participants must avoid speculative statements and leading questions that might reinforce the inaccurate information.

Use of Imagery

CrossCheck does not publish imagery sourced online and relating to the investigation if:

  • It is deemed to be graphic or distressing.
  • It could compromise the identity of at-risk individuals.
  • It could fuel speculation and add oxygen to a story that is proven to be false or unreliable, or only acts to give coverage to a campaign slogan/hashtag.
  • It has not been possible to gain consent from the owner.

 

Tone

To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, all reports must be written and presented clearly and simply. Appropriate language and visuals must be selected to help explain the verification steps taken and conclusion reached.

Reports must not include opinion, conjecture or presumption.

Source Protection

CrossCheck is vigilant in our protection of all sources who choose to remain anonymous.

When identifying any individuals in relation to a story or claim, we do so only when persons who have already been repeatedly referenced publicly are considered to be recognisable and a person of interest (such as a politician or an online influencer).

In all cases where the victims of misinformation, conspiracy or hoaxes are concerned, at-risk individuals will be made unidentifiable by name or image, for example, by pixelation.

In cases where perpetrators of deliberate misinformation or conspiracy are identified, we may reference their real or online persona, and related pages and profiles, in an effort to alert the public to the source of misinformation.

Corrections

If CrossCheck is alerted to a mistake, or our verification work or conclusions are challenged, we will add a correction or clarification to the published report on our website. We will also make every effort possible to reach the original recipients of our reporting by disseminating our correction via social media and public statements, where necessary.