In praise of... Alexios Mantzarlis

11 December 2018 | Will Moy

Alexios Mantzarlis has announced that he will step down as the first Director of the International Fact Checking Network.

Roman, Greek, and intolerant of myths, he put the international into factchecking at just the right time.

The IFCN was the brainchild of Bill Adair, whose tireless work while he was busy running PolitiFact in the USA brought together international meetings of factcheckers which led to the network. None of this would have been possible without Bill, who is now Knight Professor of Journalism at Duke and still a leading voice in factchecking.

Alexios was the obvious person to take the IFCN forward. He was an established leader among factcheckers who had already been one of the founding team behind Italy’s Pagella Politica and made a name and a face for himself on Italian TV, as well as pulling together a project called FactCheck.EU during the 2014 European Parliamentary Elections.

With a ready smile, a quick wit, an inbox worthy of mythology and a work ethic to match, he set about supporting factcheckers around the world. That group has now grown to 162 organisations around the world.

It has been a tumultuous time. More awareness of online errors and deceptions and the harms they can cause has mobilised governments, internet companies, and the media, although not always in good ways and not always enough.

Factcheckers are small fish in ponds of predators, facing political and in some cases physical threats. Alexios has guarded IFCN members’ independence and played a big part in the adoption of the IFCN Code of Principles, the internationally recognised baseline standard of independence and impartiality for factcheckers.

At the same time his work has helped to move relative giants like the EU, the internet companies, and others into more considered and more useful—or sometimes less dangerous—responses to misinformation.

We at Full Fact would like to thank Alexios in particular for encouraging us to write The State of Automated Factchecking in 2016, the first step on the road to the technology we and other factcheckers globally are now using and developing, and which we see as a turning point for factcheckers’ effectiveness.

He organised the IFCN Fellowships which allowed Pablo Fernandez from Chequeado in Argentina to come to London and work with us and coordinate the tools they and we were developing. Full Fact always committed to ‘Think Global’ with our technology. Alexios helped to make that real.

Alexios stands out above all for his thoughtfulness. The six vital questions in his important opening address to the most recent GlobalFact conference showed why he has earned his place in factchecking’s pantheon.

We look forward to seeing what he does next.

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