Fact Checking in the Age of Fake News

Fact checking sites have become more important than ever.  Not only do we live in the age of a 24-hour news cycle and and endless stream of Tweets and shares, but disseminating fake news and confusing conspiracy theories has become a viable business model for scrupulous individuals, organizations and has benefited certain politicians.  Alternative facts (and outright lies) are spread faster and reach a wider audience than ever.  Mainstream news sources continue to either ignore (or barely mention) false claims and conspiracies they apparently deem not worth adequately addressing.  Meanwhile these claims and conspiracies spread like wildfire on social media networks.

Snopes

Perhaps the best-known of the fact-checking websites, Snopes has been the go-to source for many people over the years.  Politics aside, Snopes has been instrumental in debunking urban legends and internet rumors, and has been lauded by the world’s top folklorists for their great work.  In the age of social media, where a myth can spread like wildfire, Snopes has become even more important then ever.  Google has begun to use Snopes as barometer for checking false claims.  What sets Snopes apart is that it addresses a whole array of false claims, not just politically-motivated narratives.

Factcheck.org

A non-profit and non-partisan website that describes itself as a “consumer advocate for voters,” FactCheck.org is an important go-to during election cycles, as well as throughout the year.  A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, the website has won four Webby Awards for the Politics category.

Originally launched in 2003, FactCheck primarily focuses on providing responses to inaccurate, false and misleading claims by politicians, as well as partisan groups.  The site’s features include Ask FactCheck, Viral Spiral, Party Lines and Mailbag.  It also contains a forum where users can interact.

Politifact

A project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners, Politifact specifically fact checks statements made by politicians including presidents, candidates, governers, cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, state legislators, mayors as well as people who testify before Congress.  Therefore it is unique in that it solely targets politicians and not political groups, pundits nor authors.

Claims are researched using the Truth-o-meter and given various levels of “truthiness” (“True” being the highest, and “Pants on Fire” being the lowest).  Consistency is rated using the Flip-O-Meter, and campaign promises using the Pledge-O-Meter.  Then there is also the annual Lie of the Year in which they expose the year’s biggest whopper.

Fact and Myth

Less known than the other fact-checking sites, Fact and Myth focuses on a wide array of topics including politics, science, fake news, logical fallacies and conspiracy theories.  Aiming to do more than simply spread facts and dispel rumors, Fact and Myth also explains the tactics used and the heuristics that lead many people to fall prey to misinformation.  The site also dives deep into certain conspiracies and fake news sources.

Fact checking

There are certainly other fact-checking websites out there, but these are four you certainly want to visit.  These websites have become even more important in today’s world of noise.

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