The BlackBerry fact check portal is a great idea and here are ways they can make it even better

By Chris Umiastowski on 8 Jul 2014 11:12 am EDT

On June 26th BlackBerry announced, via a blog post, something they are calling a "fact check portal." Technically it's not a portal but a category under which they can file blog posts. We can call it whatever we like. Portal, category or even a dedicated blog … these are just labels. What matters to me is the content and how well they market it.

The very first blog post under this category was made by Mark Wilson. Recall that Chen hired Wilson away from enterprise voice giant Avaya where Wilson was the chief marketing officer. He had previously worked with Chen at Sybase. According to a story by the Globe and Mail Wilson emailed Chen to congratulate him on taking the CEO post at BlackBerry. Chen fired back a reply asking him if he'd be interested in joining the good fight. Wilson wasn't looking for a new job, but took the bait because he believed the turnaround was possible.

Since we've never seen BlackBerry do anything like the "fact check portal" before, and since Wilson made the first post, I'm assuming it was his idea. And I very much like the idea. Rather than just announce an idea and let it die, BlackBerry has already posted six times (aside from Wilson's introduction) under the "BlackBerry Fact Check" category. That's some great momentum out of the gate. I'm also seeing these posts referenced quite often in my Twitter feed and through Twitter search, which is a good sign that people are reading and sharing them.

So how can they improve the idea further? I'd like to suggest they move faster and give general employees broader ability to submit their own ideas or even write their own "Fact Check" posts.

As an example of speed let's just consider the entirely incorrect stories that were shared last week regarding Volkswagen allegedly taking over parts of QNX. How does a simple press release by Volkswagen, which just say they're taking over an R&D facility in Germany, translate into "BlackBerry sold QNX"? I think I can see how this happened.

The Globe and Mail ran this story on July 3rd. All of the information in that story is correct as far as I can tell. But because the story talks about the Volkswagen sale and then also talks about QNX.

I can understand how some people would form a totally inaccurate conclusion. Imagine I wrote something about the strength of my morning coffee and then tacked on a paragraph about how important I think it is to filter my water. People will start thinking I said that filtering water is critical to strong coffee. Most people jump to conclusions too quickly.

Let me be very clear: The Globe and Mail and several other news outlets that published similar stories, did not make inaccurate reports. But these reports inspired other, lesser quality reports including one from Seeking Alpha that was totally out to lunch in ways I won't express in words (because there would be a lot of cursing, and I do mean a LOT.)

Seeking Alpha accepts posts from amateurs who may not know what they don't know (unconscious incompetence, for those who care about the technical label). CrackBerry member xBURK suggested, in a forum post, that the company fact check one Seeking Alpha story from July 3rd. Yet it took until July 7th for the actual fact check post to go live, although I recognize it addressed a different article published July 6th. Still - there are tons of BlackBerry employees who read CrackBerry, and it was obvious on July 3rd that wrong facts were circulating about QNX.

How can BlackBerry speed up its reaction time and increase the amount of content it posts to its fast checker? Simple: Involve everyone in the company. Invite every single employee to write posts for the blog, should they want to. And at the very minimum have one person who is charged with vetting ideas that any employee (or interested party) can submit.

While Mark Wilson gave people a gentle call to action by saying, "If you see a work of fiction from one of our competitors, we want to hear about it. Tell us about it here." But he stopped short of giving people a mechanism to actually report stuff that needs fact checking.

All good marketers understand the importance of a call to action (CTA). I think BlackBerry needs to put a huge call to action button somewhere on the fact check portal and route all ideas to at least one person who is dedicated to this task.

If amateur writers (and some experienced ones who have a track record or mis-reporting things) knew they'd be called to the mat every time they reported garbage, I think we'd see much higher quality stuff about BlackBerry in the media.

Topics: Editorial

Reader comments

The BlackBerry fact check portal is a great idea and here are ways they can make it even better


On Seeking Alpha's page in now says "This article has been temporarily removed, pending resolution of a dispute."

I think it is working out. Keep up the good work!

There should honestly be an open tracker to submit issues lol. It would have got filled up yesterday after the Passport blog post. Rather amazing how there's SOOOO MANYY experts on a device they've never laid hands on. I suspect there's legal limits on all of that as well which is why there isn't but still, it could be a submission form and make the entries non-public. Just make sure someone is reading them on the other side.

Yeah I loved the one from ZDNet that said the Passport is being designed and built for spreadsheets. The title, and much of the story, gave the impression that's what it is for and little else. Talking about a simplistic take from BlackBerry's blog on the device. That in itself needs a reality check.

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Actually if you go back to the NantHealth Investment announcement, it talks about a device being specially designed for use in the health care vertical with a large square hi rez screen for optimal viewing of X-rays and other diagnostics including 3-D imagery, coming this Fall. Sounds like the Passport to me.

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

But it doesn't just say x-ray and spreadsheets, also university and writers and just for common day Web browsing and ebooks as well

Posted via CB10

The good ol 'Health care vertical' lol. Sounds like something Thorsten made up along with mobile computing platform hahaha

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Maybe to a degree, but overall it's a good idea, too many site post misinformation, it's good to get the story straight from BlackBerry. And they must be doing something right, their stocks are up

Posted via CB10

Is BlackBerry fast check portal a standalone website?

Posted via my awesome communication device BlackBerry Z10

I read the article and wasn't totally clear on that question either. Don't be a jerk.

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I heard that the Fart Check Portal was sold to Volkswagen in that deal last week.

"Classic" better be called "Bold Q20" or "Bold 10" Keep Bold Alive, would Apple Kill iPhone? 

Here's what the article says, sentences 2-5:

"Technically it's not a portal but a category under which they can file blog posts. We can call it whatever we like. Portal, category or even a dedicated blog … these are just labels. What matters to me is the content and how well they market it."

Posted via CB10 using my Z30.

I don't think having any and all employees turning their attention to blogging on this site is a good plan at all. They've got other stuff they should be doing. All it takes is one guy and a Google search every morning to see if there is anything out there that needs addressing.

Posted via CB10

A standalone "Report FUD" app would be awesome. But more awesome would be for it to be a built-in option in the BB10 browser under the "Share" feature. Share to Facebook. Share to email. Report as FUD. Boom! Then they could just tally up the number of reports for each unique URL and put a priority on addressing the ones with the highest number of FUD reports. If an already-addressed URL is reported as FUD then the feature can give the reporter a link to the relevant Fact Check page.

I like the idea Chris but I am scared they might get inundated with too much crap, and it might do more harm (end up closing the project) than good. Maybe some kind of middle ground would work.

They won't post more often and faster. It's not about giving the full picture, it's marketing. They cherry pick their fights in order to promote their strengths.
All the competitors have similar banners, blog posts, etc.

Great story Umi and I agree with much of what you said. To me, the most important thing for fact check to do is to move more quickly. Allowing misinformation to go for days always makes it worse as it spreads.

PROUD to be the 1%! Z10 on T-Mobile USA - Posted via CrackBerry 10

Take the blog, portal or category and put it on a dedicated website. Not everyone is willing to dig through the categories of blogs to get to FactCheck. Have an app that is cross-platform. People can use the app to submit pieces.

- Dedicated website
- Dedicated cross-platform app (linked to the website of course)

It's a good idea, BlackBerry takes a pounding in the news every time, it's about time they put some word out.

Posted via CB10

There should be an entry for the wrong reports of Chris being fired by Kev over a Samsung story...

There....see what I did?

Z30 Vivo Brasil

There are no experts just exploit -ers.

Why not put out an advert about the the Fact Checker putting out some truths about BlackBerry.

Also put out a warning to those who wish to who wish to continue in this mischief making to either write a retraction and apologise or face closure via means of an injunction.

Signed by Mr Chen and Mr Zipperstein.

Tell me what will be the critics excuse this time?

A Battle is won the War continues.....

BlackBerry...Get it done!!!!

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Here's a crazy idea. Put the CrackBerry team in charge of BlackBerry fact check.

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If you want to be heard you miss adding the #BBfactcheck this way.. they can consider your good tips, hope they heard and apply

 BBLatino

"While Mark Wilson gave people a gentle call to action by saying, "If you see a work of fiction from one of our competitors, we want to hear about it. Tell us about it here." But he stopped short of giving people a mechanism to actually report stuff that needs fact checking." Maybe I am missing something, but can't an individual just tweet something to #BBFactCheck? Sounds like a mechanism for reporting to me.

Twitter is like the ether though, who's reading the Tweets and filtering them out? Should at least have its own account, that would help people feel like it's going 'somewhere'.

An email address which is read by a small team of BlackBerry marketing department will do.

Using Z10, wanting Z30, eyeing Windermere

Great suggestions and I definitely agree. When I saw that sentence: "tells us about it here" I expected the "here" part to be a URL that would lead me to a submit page... perhaps that's coming?

I wouldn't open it to the whole public. Maybe open a beta program and have an app for it. That way a more limited set of users can submit stories to factcheck. Otherwise, they would have a swarm of people sending in articles with tons of duplication. That would be a nightmare for people to manage.

Here's another tip for them: keep it professional, and make sure you have your facts right when replying. It's a basic one, but anyone who knows what seeking alpha is, knows it's basically a glorified blog. The BBFactcheck would look a lot more professional if they didn't claim that the piece was written by seeking Alpha and rather targeted the individual writer.

Quite simply, it's like saying: "facebook is lying about us" when some facebook user makes an incorrect post. Just be a bit more professional, it'll go a long way.

Yeah, Seeking Alpha's objective is to make money on clicks, they don't seem to care too much about the quality of the writing - oftentimes you see articles on there posted within minutes or hours of each other that have polar, and I mean POLAR opposite opinions.

But in the end, the fact that they publish those articles still confers ultimate responsibility for the content to the site-owners. I'm sure if someone started submitting articles full of racist material or threatening to commit violence on someone, the site-owners would pull them real quick. So to say they are absolutely not culpable for the content there is not really true.

Totally agree. I'm guessing the writer of the fact check post on this doesn't realize (or didn't until now) that SeekingAlpha is a bunch of amateur articles from individuals who submit them, only to be read by editors who are NOT subject matter experts.

What good is a CTA or assessment data if nobody important reviews/scrubs for solutions?

BBRY just needs some people strictly responsible for reviewing this type of info in my opinion.

I could not agree with you more Chris. I love what BlackBerry is doing for there are so many inaccuracies being written about the company. The more people that can get involved the better. This so called "portal" needs to be in the headlines everyday.

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1. could BlackBerry do an app?

2. After being FactChecked could or should BlackBerry also include FactCheck rating? It could include but of course not limited to media source, number of checks, rating ending with their credibility percentage.

3. Could BLACKBERRY also post results on social media, news and tech news sites, blogs and integrate FC with BBM?

4. Should FactCheck have a response time posted as a warning? We will respond within minutes, hours, day(s) of false reporting.

Very good post and ideas Chris.

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I did a search on twitter is there even a account on twitter that is just specifically BlackBerry factcheck?

Posted Via my BlackBerry  Z30 

Of course the big problem with this past one is the basic story was bizarrely vaque and the clarification also quite vague. Still hard to know what they sold. Did they sell their automotive interface R&D team to VW? All of it, some of it. 200 people is a pretty big division, what business are they giving up? YUO would have to assume something that wasn't making money, but who knows, why would VW want a losing division?

Anybody who assumed it meant all of QNX was sold was being silly, nobody said that and QNX is behind all of BBs core products now, but thye left a lot of room for confusion and conjecture.

and why so vague, anything on the other side , is VW saying why they wanted this?

How about us at Crackberry creating a place for members to report wrong facts meanwhile?

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The fact check portal is an excellent idea. Especially because RIM/BlackBerry has been hammered for years by PR spin FUD, and they have historically been very inadequate when it comes to communicating their message effectively. (This also applies to product support and general customer communications)

But I strongly believe they need to leverage what's left of their loyal users and allow public submissions. No, I don't mean allow the public to write articles, just to submit evidence. Require a login of some kind (BlackBerry ID?) so that if someone starts spamming the "tips line" or incessantly sending junk info, they can be blocked.

Then instead of taking a bunch of the company staff away from doing their regular jobs, they just need one or two people to monitor the incoming tips, and one or two people to write their "corrections". (They could be the same people)

Why not get a couple marketing students on the job. Let them find youtube videos with a certain number of views that are incorrect, device reviews that are incorrect or have complaints with quick-easy fixes, send out a couple devices with an android app store and apps, have them all big festivals as the Fact Check crew kinda. The Fact Check Portal is a good idea, but it can definitely be improved. Give it some energy and get it out there for people to see.

Perhaps even The Globe and Mail will stop bashing BlackBerry with their overly negative overtones about the company.

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Hey Chris, makes complete sense. Nicely done.
It was not until a few days ago that I learned of Seeking Alpha accepting amateur submissions.
I have a bad habit of just assuming most sites are filled with professionals.
While this Fact Check plan is a great idea, it's a shame that some sites will find clever ways around it. (if you can call it that)
An example would be the recent Inside Blackberry Article: "BlackBerry Passport: Breaking Design Boundaries"
(UberGizmo) "Blackberry Tries To Justify Passport Design"
(The Register ) "Blackberry Claims Ugly Duckling Passport Mobe Is A Swan In The Offing"
(BGR) Why Blackberry doesn't care if you think its new smartphone looks hideous?

I wish there was a "Knob Check" report for these sites.

Yeah why do they do that? The globe and mail a Canadian company? Anyway the fact check is part of another bb web site and is only intended to shoot down maliciously written content that has no merit what we're the other 6 articles about ?and you get the idea don't bury the facts, just get them out. So Chris your ideas stink and so does the newspaper you work for on occasion.

Posted via CB10

If BlackBerry tweets when they write a new #BBFactCheck post, it should help expand the reader audience a bit. I'm not going to go look for the portal on my browser very often but I would probably click on a link on Twitter

Exactly, it's not BlackBerry fans they need to convince. It's other casual readers who happen to notice a BlackBerry headline here and there.


@xBurk,you are wrong it is meant to combat the stupid analshits

nothing is casual about WS reading crap and shorting BB because they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and not much more.

You're correct. Yes.
It also fights what I mentioned.
If these sites are stopped, in return the negative headlines are removed so the casual reader doesn't see them. It helps both ways.

Great post Chris, you have pointed out the miss information since Nov. 2012. Eg global blackberry sales vs Global blackberry users etc..

Z30 : posted via CB10 app

"There is no good or bad publicity: there is only PUBLICITY!"

quoting from someone I lost the name.
probably someone working on/for ...publicity(advertising)!!

For the the record, Seeking Alpha has a mish mash of intelligent writers and also amateurs with a short intent. While the one BBFactCheck called attention to indeed has a bunch of errors, you will note mine is the one on July 3rd.

BlackBerry Demystified 8: Did Volkswagen Just Buy A Critical Part Of BlackBerry's QNX Team?

I questioned what BlackBerry did and did not do and asked them for clarification on whether they sold QNX.

Thanks for piling me in with the amateur writers. Let it be known that many said my BlackBerry Demystified articles were the inspiration for Fact Check.

Also, I've been actively sending ideas from my readers to BB. Bearish debates that have at its core impossible to resolve topics like ATO and FOC were also brought to BB's attention and have since been put to rest by them in a blog.

Suffice it to say, I am not pleased with this CB article which places a blanket dismissal on SA.

To gain respect from bulls and bears who invest for themselves and to spot issues when they are just developing, I track my readers' comments and get in touch with the company. I sometimes have to point out BB's weaknesses. Better I do it than a real bear.

Full article list for those who want to re-evaluate SA and this writer can be found here:


Posted via CB10