In the age of the internet and social media, a world of information and news updates has been put at consumers’ fingertips 24/7 … but as most of us are well aware, much of it is far from trustworthy.
Especially in some social media circles, the spread of misinformation has become rampant, in some cases even leading to dangerous consequences. In fact, falsehoods and exaggerated claims have become so commonplace online and on social media, it can at times be hard to tell what is true and false anymore.
Fortunately, though, discerning news consumers who want to double-check the accuracy of the reports, memes and other claims they find on their social media newsfeeds have options. A long list of fact-checking websites and resources has been established in recent years to combat the spread of misinformation and many of them offer fully nonpartisan evaluations of the veracity of the latest wild claims circulating online.
Here are five of the top fact-checking resources that consumers can consult when seeking to verify questionable claims they see online:
- FactCheckorg: Established in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, this nonpartisan, nonprofit website seeks to serve as a “consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” Its primary focus is on fact-checking the claims and talking points of federal-level politicians and its search tool allows site visitors to quickly find objectively researched articles on their claims of choice.
- Politifact: The winner of a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, this nonpartisan fact-checking website was created by the Tampa Bay Times in 2007 in an effort to “sort out the truth in American politics.” Its articles, which largely focus on verifying/debunking claims made by American politicians, employ a “Truth-o-Meter” that allows readers to quickly discern whether a claim is True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False or Pants On Fire.
- Snopes: Started in 1994 by a computer scientist with a passion for investigating urban legends, hoaxes and folklore, this fact-checking website is one of the oldest and largest on the internet. It now boasts a full editorial staff filled largely with researchers who have journalism backgrounds and its articles are careful to provide documentation and links to their sources of information. In addition to being a helpful tool for checking the veracity of political claims, this website is a good place to go to check the accuracy of memes, to find out whether widely circulating photos have been manipulated and to validate or debunk a wide range of other questionable claims that are not necessarily political.
- The Washington Post’s Fact Checker: Focused on fact-checking statements made by federal officials and political candidates, this initiative spearheaded by award-winning Washington Post journalist Glenn Kessler ranks false statements on a scale of one to four Pinocchios to quickly convey the magnitude of any non-truths. Conversely, true statements are awarded the Geppetto Checkmark.
- AP Fact Check: Presented by the Associated Press, this resource is largely focused on fact-checking political claims and news-focused social media posts. Each Friday, it publishes a timely roundup of widely circulated falsehoods in its “Not Real News: A Look at What Didn’t Happen This Week” article. The site also serves as a regularly updated library housing AP articles that examine fact vs. fiction related to news stories with national relevance.
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