Fighting false information in public transportation in Istanbul

UPDATE: teyit.org’s partnership with Modyo TV canceled

We announced six days ago in this page that teyit.org’s content in video format with analyses on suspicious content and fact-checking tips started running in Istanbul’s public transportation systems.

Unfortunately, this project aimed at raising awareness about misinformation problem and at helping people develop their media literacy skills lasted only three days.

Here is what happened:

03/12/2018:

teyit.org’s one-minute videos started running in Modyo TV’s 7,600 screens in Istanbul’s ferries and subways. We announced this with a teaser video in our website and social platforms.

04/12/2018:

Some left-leaning newspapers and journalists with their coverage on the partnership made it look like teyit.org had a deal with and received payments from AKP-run Istanbul Municipality (IBB) for this project. They accused teyit.org of losing its impartiality because of the project.

In the meantime, some Twitter users started tweeting to Modyo TV and IBB with complaints that teyit.org’s activities are not supportive of the government so their content shouldn’t be on the city’s public screens.

05/12/2018:  

IBB asked Modyo TV to canceled the partnership. Although reluctant, Modyo TV had to do so on the same day.

teyit.org’s response:

  1. From beginning to end, IBB didn’t have any involvement in the project. Meetings were conducted between teyit.org and Modyo TV representatives and the partnership was between the two.
  2. teyit.org didn’t receive any payment from either IBB or Modyo TV. On the contrary, along with putting a lot of effort in developing the project and creating content for it, teyit.org accepted to pay Modyo to get these verification videos on to its screens.
  3. teyit.org stated very clearly in the agreement that it won’t accept any kind of interference in its editorial decisions.
  4. teyit.org is a non-partisan organization. It’s only natural that it debunks claims from all parties.

We were excited about the idea that we could expand our reach by getting our content in Istanbul’s public transportation that is used by approximately four million people each day. Our videos would have helped people get a better understanding of the extent of the misinformation problem, develop critical thinking, and learn basic verification methods.

teyit.org is created for the public good, not for profit. Our intention was no different with this project. We are sorry that it was haunted by the very problem teyit.org has been fighting against, namely “fake news”. That said, this won’t stop us from developing new creative formats for different platforms to fight fake news more effectively. We’re now more motivated than ever before.

Our first and only video ran in screens was a debunk of the myth that people use only limited part of their brains.

Our announcement of the partnership:

03/12/2018

teyit.org is taking its fight against false information to Istanbul’s public transport systems with its partnership with Modyo TV that has 7,600 screens in Istanbul’s ferries and subways.

Three one-minute videos with analyses on suspicious content and fact-checking tips will run on thousands of screens around the city each week. Approximately four million passengers use Istanbul’s public transport systems.

Each video will consist of one analysis on a suspicious content spreading online in the country and one verification tip. This partnership with Modyo TV will enable teyit.org to expand its reach enormously and help it raise further awareness about the importance of public access to factual information.