Fact Checking Tools
It is important to verify the information we are consuming to stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation. In addition, analyzing information is important for our own protection – verification allows us to be aware of what information and resources to trust. The following 6 fact and media analysis tools can help us critically evaluate what we consume.
Misinformation – False or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.
Disinformation – False information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.
1. Verify the facts:
Is it true? Use these resources to confirm the truth behind news stories, rumors, and other information you come across. These websites are dedicated to investigative reporting and look to differentiate facts from fiction.
FactCheck.org – A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
Politifact.com – This nonpartisan fact checking branch of the Poynter Institute seeks to present the true facts unaffected by agenda or biases.
NPR Fact Checker – NPR journalists periodically analyze and fact check political claims and stories.
Washington Post Fact Checker – Journalistic resource analyzing the truth behind political rhetoric.
VoteSmart – Nonpartisan nonprofit that provides free access to info on over 40,000 candidates and elected officials. This information includes voting records, position statements, and interest group ratings, among other areas.
OpenSecrets.org – This nonpartisan and independent resource from the Center for Responsive Politics researches and tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.
Duke Reporters’ Lab – Database of fact checkers all around the globe.
Remember, just because information hasn’t been fact checked, that doesn’t mean it is true!
2. Analyze Images and Videos:
Is it real? Use these resources to verify videos and images using tools like Reverse Image Searching, which traces the history of an image to differentiate real images from photoshopped ones.
Tin Eye – Tin Eye allows you to search by image and sort the results by oldest, newest, and most altered. In addition, you can search and view any domains the image has been shared on.
Exif Data Viewer – Exif Data (Exchangeable Image File Format Data) is information stored in images that can include the location, date and time the photo was taken, as well as camera settings, device information and sometimes even the name of the photographer.
InVid – InVid is a browser plugin that can be used to verify videos and images. This plugin lets you get information on videos and “fragment videos from various platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Daily Motion) into keyframes, enhance and explore keyframes and images through a magnifying lens” and even view video metadata.
3. Evaluate Bias:
Is it fair? Evaluate and compare the political leaning of news sources to understand how some sources try to sway opinion and where facts line up between sources from various leanings – or select nonpartisan news sources.
All Sides – All Sides is a website that allows for side by side comparisons of news topics from different political perspectives. Its “headline roundups” compiles articles from left, right and centrist news sources, which enables us to find the truth past ideological biases.
FAIR – FAIR, or Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, is a national media watch group offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.
Media Bias Charts – Check out where your news sources fall on these media bias charts. How varied are your sources?
See also: “How to Detect Bias in News Media” – by Fair.org, a national media watch group founded in 1986
4. Observe the Spread of Information:
Where did it come from? Information spreads fast in the digital age. Use these tools to analyze where information comes from, how it spreads and how people are talking about it.
Hoaxy – This website from Indiana University visualizes how information spreads on the internet of any popular or trending ideas, claims, and fact checks through articles or twitter. You can focus on a specific period of time and play animations showing the spread of information. Gray lines indicate low credibility sources and yellow lines are from fact checkers.
CrowdTangle Link Checker – CrowdTangle is a browser plugin that allows you to observe how many times a page is shared on different social media platforms, who shared it and how they are talking about it.
5. Understand the Opinions of Fellow Americans:
Who thinks so? Use these resources to better understand where Americans stand on the issues.
General Social Survey – Oftentimes, overgeneralized statements or assumptions are made about the beliefs and thoughts of the American people. The General Social Survey, administered by the University of Chicago and funded by the National Science Foundation is a national sample survey given to assess social attitudes. On the GSS website you can track, get visualizations, and analyze these trends in attitudes.
Pew Research Center – A nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.
6. Grow Your Media Literacy Skills
Use these tools to improve your media literacy skills so you can grow trust in sources, identify and navigate bias and stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation.
Action Utah’s Media Literacy Guide – What is media literacy and how do you grow and implement media literacy skills? Our guide will help you understand and navigate media literacy, including media literacy educational resources.
“Break the Fake” Media Literacy Workshop – Watch this 21 minute video with helpful slides to understand media literacy, from Media Smarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy.
False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources – Tips for analyzing news sources and websites, plus a long reference list of analyzed websites from Melissa Zimdars, a professor of communications at Merrimack College.