Confused by Fake News? Fact Check!
It’s gotten really difficult to tell whether what you’ve read is from a reliable source. Lots of fake or highly slanted news sources pick names similar to those of trusted news sources. Before you embrace that “news” or FROAK share a fake, false or just erroneous story, why not take a moment to fact check it at one of these sites or install the new fact check BS Detector App? All of these sites (and the app!) come highly recommended by entities concerned with unslanted, factual information especially Media Bias.
Brooks Jackson – a 30 year veteran reporter – founded FactCheck.org under the umbrella of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Four full time experienced journalists staff the site. This is a non-profit website mainly funded by the Annenberg Foundation. FactCheck.org always gives sources for their information and Media Bias rates them as unbiased.
Mainly concerned with political factchecking, reporters and editors from the Tampa Bay Times News run Politifact.org. Each story or quote that they report on is assigned a “Truth-O-Meter” rating. The ratings run from a simple ‘True’ for accurate statements all the way to ‘Pants on Fire’ for outrageous and ridiculous claims. In addition, the reporters explain each rating in detail with special attention given to statements that are confusing or that could be looked at in several ways. I find them especially useful for difficult topics because they do such a good job of explaining the ‘ifs’ or ‘unknowns’.
Snopes tackles everything from email fishing, to internet rumors and folklore to political fact checking. Despite the efforts of the Right wing story spinners to paint this site as inaccurate, it is well respected, accurate and always well sourced. Some who like to put out fake news stories try to claim that the folks that run the site are progressives, but the truth is that the owner of the site was a registered Republican when he started Snopes.com. Snopes updates stories if further information comes out and quickly correct any errors found.
As an educator, I sometimes cringe when thinking of Wikipedia as a reference. Wikipedia is open-sourced – meaning anyone can edit an article. But the site is now so well moderated and highly sourced that it is often a great place to start if you don’t know anything about an issue. Not only can you view the information provided on a subject, but you can follow it’s sources to scholarly sites where you can fact check yourself what you’ve learned from Wikipedia as well as deepen your understanding. In addition, you can click on their ‘Talk’ tab and see what changes the mods are discussing. Also, the mods now place notes at the top of the articles that warn when the article needs improved.
Focused more on internet scams (including email phishing), HoaxSlayer also includes categories that can be useful for political and social media fact checking including Fake Pictures and Videos, Petitions and Protests and Politics. Brett Christensen based in Australia – owns and operates HoaxSlayer.
The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the effects of money in politics, runs the Open Secrets site. Rather than fact check the news, the site tracks the cash, who pays which politicians and what did they do. In research and life, you should always follow the money!
The Sunlight Foundation
Much like Open Secrets, The Sunlight Foundation traces the money flow in politics and government. Michael Kline funded this non-profit organization but they also got funds from Bloomberg Family Foundations, Inc., The Ford Foundation and Cards Against Humanity, LLC among others. Not strictly a fact checker site, they work towards transparency at the local, country and international level. The Sunlight Foundation is a bit hackerish, so if that worries you, select another site to read but their information is fascinating!
Who knew the world’s favorite search engine would help you sort truth from fiction? One way to use Google get the straight skinny is to type the headline in the search bar and then follow it with ‘fact check’. You might get the best results by clicking on the News tab of your results page. Also considering adding site:.edu to your search to improve the quality of sources (or use Google Scholar!) Google is looking for other ways to help you out though. They recently invested in several businesses looking to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Is what you’ve read on Facebook real? Can you tell without opening a new window to Snope it out? [FROAK see what we did there?] Try out the new Chrome App BS Detector by the Self Agency. Right now, this Chrome only app works soley on Facebook but they are working hard to expand the usability to the general web. They also have work-a-rounds for other browsers on their website. For a few hours today, Facebook blocked their app but almost immediately reinstated it. This app will save you the hassle of fact checking everything on Facebook.
Sources: Media Bias News