Post-Twitter Files – Part 3: Media literacy and funding

The recent growth of the fact check industry, its global networks, the widespread annual conferences, and the industry’s wealthy funders are still hidden from most of the world’s view.

This is the last of the series of three papers that examine the fact checking industry. Part one [a] showed the areas not yet covered by American journalists that are exploring the Twitter files, Part two [b] explored characteristics of the industry – its geographic spread, and its reach across all forms of media, and academia. This section outlines the extension of the fact check industry to media literacy training. It goes on to reveal funding sources of the fact check industry, in Western countries and further afield, and the impact this well-funded industry has, and may have, on other parts of the world. 

Fact-checking and media literacy training

Many fact check platforms offer media literacy and fact-checking courses: their main targets are children, students and journalists, although courses may be offered more widely. For example, Logically and NewsMobile joined forces with Facebook to offer a media literacy programme in India in 2021 [1]. Africa Check, its main funders being Meta, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, trained 4,500 journalists in fact-checking [2]; operates a media literacy programme in schools [3]; and trained over 10,000 people in media literacy [4].  In 2020 AFP ran a Covid-19 media literacy course in France with the support of Facebook [5], AFP in conjunction with Google, runs worldwide online fact-checking training courses for journalists and produces training videos [6].  In Indonesia, Google has joined with AJI, a journalists’ association, to train trainers in teaching media literacy [7]. In USA, Associated Press (AP) announced that Microsoft is supporting media literacy programmes [8]. Google joins with partners MediaWise, part of the Poynter network, and The News Literacy Project to support media literacy training in US schools and the community for English and Spanish speakers [9]. Google has also donated EUR25 million to the European Media and Information Fund for media literacy training [10]. 

Encouraging audiences to think critically, understand nuances and potential inaccuracies, and to avoid online scams and dangers is commendable, but courses on offer have a narrow focus. For example, a media literacy course for seniors, funded by Meta and operated by MediaWise, limits trustworthy sources to organisations such as mainstream media, Wikipedia, WHO and the Center for Disease Control (CDC)[11]. The course facilitators claim that those who spread other narratives, described as ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’, are doing this for financial gain such as advertising revenue and clickbait, or they may be linked to foreign or harmful sources. This and other courses, such as AFP’s fact checking courses for journalists [12], advise the importance of checking out the source by up-reading (finding out where the information came from) or lateral reading (checking what other sources say about the author or the website/news site). This is problematic because when checking out dissenting voices, despite having appropriate qualifications or experience to join the debate, they are often smeared on internet websites [13]. Being able to listen to a variety of thoughtful and educated views on science, health and other issues should be normal in a free society, without prior judgement of credibility.

Governments directly fund content moderation, demonstrated by the Twitter files and subsequent investigations…

For example, an AFP course for journalists entitled “Identify trustworthy sources on health topics and evaluate studies” [14] gives useful detail on analysing academic papers, but emphasises the trustworthiness of a small number of elite medical journals and peer review. However, AFP does not acknowledge the influence of pharmaceutical companies and questions of possible bias in medical journals and peer review, as described by retired editors of both the British Medical Journal [15] and the New England Journal of Medicine [16]. Many academics have seen this trend significantly worsen since 2020 [17, 18, 19], whilst issues of flawed data in peer reviewed and published papers that support official narratives are sometimes ignored [20]. Hence journalists cannot rely on medical journals nor even peer review when investigating health issues, and “trustworthy sources” identified by AFP do not give a full picture of the range of useful academic opinions.

Funding at home and overseas

When media organisations have a fact-checking arm, this is usually funded by the media company. By comparison, independent fact checkers that do not produce a product almost entirely rely on donations, grants and earned income from third party fact-checking contracts, training courses, or designing fact check tools. As revealed in the Twitter files, disclosed grants and donations listed on the websites of international fact check platforms are usually from large institutions associated with Western governments; large Western foundations or trusts; EU, American, European and UK governments; large media corporates; Google; Meta; IFCN; or UN departments. Earned income is usually from large corporates, such as Microsoft, Google or Meta. The sums involved are significant. For example, Full Fact received just under GBP500,000 from Facebook, and around GBP200,000 from Google in one year [21]; whilst IFCN received a grant of USD13.2 million from Google to cover a five year period [22]. 

Governments directly fund content moderation, demonstrated by the Twitter files [23] and subsequent investigations [24], but others also reveal government payments, including investigations by UK’s Big Brother Watch [1, 25] and McEvoy and Curtis [26, 1]. The EU requires moderation of social media content, as described in the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation [27]. Logically, a for-profit fact check platform, states that it has been contracted to undertake work for various governments [28]. It is clear that American, British and other governments are directly and generously funding fact-checking activities in order to encourage domestic content moderation in line with their preferences. But governments also pay for content moderation internationally, such as the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) [29] that funds many fact check platforms including Rappler in the Philippines, and South Asia Check in Nepal; and the EU funded European Endowment for Democracy (EED) [30] that funds Fact Check Georgia and Raskrinkavenje Bosnia-Herzegovina and others. The UK’s Open Information Partnership [31] funds a number of fact check platforms and NGOs in Eastern Europe, especially those who take an anti-Russian line. Many overseas platforms are also directly funded by Western embassies. 

Western social media companies support fact checkers globally. For example, the Indonesian fact check platforms Mafindo and CekFakta members are funded by Google [32]. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, subcontracts fact-checking in 119 countries, with 253 contracts for its third party fact check programme in May 2023 [33]. Facebook only accepts IFCN-verified signatories as fact check partners [34], giving a lucrative initiative for fact check platforms to comply with IFCN’s system. Facebook’s fact-checking programme crosses international boundaries, its contracts demonstrating that content moderation via neighbouring countries occurs around states that are not perceived as friendly to Western interests – inevitably, such interference by outside actors may be seen as hostile or unwelcome. 

Another form of foreign-earned income by fact check platforms is through the design of fact check tools, such as a $2 million grant received by Africa Check from Google [35]. Tools include products that monitor text to find target words or phrases; turn spoken words into text for analysis; predict current and future trends in conversations online and offline; analyse visual images; identify whether text has been altered; and check whether stories, statements or pictures have been used previously. 

In Western countries, the negative effect of censorship include accusations of illegally hacking sites and distorting information obtained to smear those with different opinions [36]; demonetising activities [37], and the removal of accounts [38]. Expressions of similar concerns were not found in other areas, but there are indications that Western influence on international mainstream media and social media is causing concern. For example, one Indonesian study found that newsroom editors thought the local media had been ‘colonised’, with Google now being one of the most important news values that influence story selection [39].  Moreover, India and Georgia have openly expressed concern relating to Western influences via fact-checking within their national boundaries, and have attempted restrictive measures [40, 41].


The recent growth of the fact check industry, its global networks, the widespread annual conferences of fact checkers and media literacy campaigners [42], and the industry’s wealthy funders are still hidden from most of the world’s view. However, fact checkers and current media literacy campaigns challenge freedom of speech and the ability of populations to make informed decisions based on evidence from a number of diverse sources. Fact checkers do not have a democratic mandate, nor any satisfactory appeal mechanism so that those who are censored can challenge their version of what is ‘true’. The Twitter files have made a significant contribution to exposing the ‘Industrial-Censorship Complex’, but examining the whole of the fact-checking industry and its worldwide presence, its reach to all forms of media, its media literacy and fact check activities, and Western funding of content moderation across the world should be cause of great concern for global freedom, sovereignty, and independence. 


  1. “Logically, NewsMobile and Facebook launch Covid-19 Media Literacy Programme.” Locically, 24 August 2021, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  2. “Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation. Africa Check, 2023, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  3. “Raising informed media consumers starts at school.” Africa Check, 2023, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  4. “Know the facts, get the vax. Helping people to make better choices about Covid and vaccines. Africa Check, 2023, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  5. “COVID-19 – AFP launches media literacy initiative in France with Facebook.” AFP, 11 April 2021, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  6. “AFP fact check training.” AFP, 5 July 2021, [Accessed 18 August 2023]
  7. “AJI Open Recruitment Training of Trainers, pre-bunking, Google News Initiative”. AJI, 1 August 2021, [Accessed 18 August 2021]
  8. Klepper, D, “Microsoft’s media literacy program aims to empower internet users and combat online misinformation.” AP, 13 June 2023, [Accessed 18 August 2021}.
  9. Edwards, A., “Supporting media literacy with new partnerships. Google News Initiative (GNI) 16 November 2021, [Accessed 21 August 2021}
  10. Ibid
  11. “MediaWise for seniors.”  Poynter. 2023, [Accessed 21 August 2021]
  12. “AFP fact check training.” AFP, 2023, [Accessed 21 August 2021]
  13. Robinson, P. “Democracy Lost: Propaganda, Character Assassination and the Campaign Against Professor David Miller.”  Propaganda Studies, 7 August 2022, [Accessed 21 August 2023]
  15. Smith, R. “Peer Review: A flawed process at the heart of science and journals.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2006 Apr.99 (4) 178-182. Doi:10.1258/jrsm.99.44.178, [Accessed 21 August 2023]
  16. Angell, M., “The Truth About Drug Companies.” UK; Random House Publishing; 2005
  17. McCullough, P. “Retracted Covid-19 Articles: Significantly More Cited than Others.” Substack; Courageous Discourse, 30 April 2023, [Accessed 21 August 2023]
  18. Muhareb, R., Wispelwey, B., Gilbert, M. “Political Censorship in academic journals sets a dangerous new precedent. BMJ, 2 June 2021, [Accessed 21 August 2023]
  19. “John Campbell talks with Norman Fenton about academic censorship.” YouTube. June 2023, [22 August 2023]
  20. Fenton, N., Neil, M., “The Lancet and the Pfizer Vaccine: A Case Study in Academic Censorship and Deceit in the Covid Era. Researchgate. January 2023. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.29792.56321,
    Study_in_Academic_Censorship_and_Deceit_in_the_Covid_Era [Accessed 21 August 2023]
  21. Full Fact (2023) “Full Fact/About/Funding.” Full Fact, 2023, [Accessed 13 March 2023]
  22. “Google and YouTube partner with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network $13.2 million grant for the global fact-checking community.” Poynter, 2023, [Accessed 13 March 2023]
  23. Taibbi, M., “Twitter thread: Twitter Files” 2022, [Accessed 13 March 2023]
  24. Rep. Nancy Mace raises concerns about Twitter censoring doctors from top colleges.” C-Span, 2023, [Accessed 14 March 2023]
  25. Carlo, S., Hurford, J., Johnson, M. “Ministry of Truth – The Secretive Government Units Spying on your Speech.” London; Big Brother Watch, 2023,
  26. McEvoy, A., Curtis, M., “UK foreign office gives millions to ‘counter disinformation’ groups.” Declassified, 4 April 2023, [Accessed 16 June 2023]
  27. [Accessed 17 August 2023]
  28. “Mission.” Logically, 2023, [Accessed 13 April 2023]
  33. “Where we have fact checking.” Meta, 2023, [Accessed 13 March 2023]
  34. “Meta’s Third Party Fact Checking Program.” Meta, 2023, [Accessed 13 March 2023]
  35. “Artificial Intelligence will change Factchecking for ever.” Africa Check, 13 March, 2021, [Accessed 13 April 2023]
  36. “Logically unsound.” HART, 16 February 2023, [Accessed 15 May 2023]
  37. Taibbi, M., “YouTube demonetorizes TK content.” Racket News, Substack. 26 September 2022, [Accessed 15 May 2023]
  38. Turley, J. “Twitter discloses another possible government censorship effect.” The Hill, 4 March 2023, [Accessed 15 May 2023]
  39. Dewantara, M., Rizkiansyah, M. “Google Control Journalism Practices in Indonesian Cyber Media.” IEEE, 2021. Doi 10.1109/ICIMTech53080.2021.9535047, [Accessed 13 April 2023]
  40. “Georgians have been protesting controversial bill for days. Lawmakers dropped it.” NPR, 10 March 2023, [Accessed 18 March 2023]
  41. “Indian fact checkers face threats, jail, in misinformation fight.” France 24, 16 November 2022, [Accessed 13 April 2023]
  42. For example, IFCN’s GlobalFact annual summit; Latam Chequea’s Annual summit for Spanish and Portuguese speakers; Meta’s annual conference for its third party fact check partners; European Schoolnet’s annual Media Literacy and Digital Culture Conference, and University of Colorado’s Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship Conference, and many others.

Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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