Strengthening fact-checkers using tech

We’re happy to announce that our proposal to create a new tool for strengthening fact-checkers has been aproved by the Department of State. We’re going to work with one of the strongest fact-checkers in the region, platform Factual.ro that is curated by Funky Citizens NGO. Read our proposal below and follow the development on Github.

Background

Fact-checking organizations provide facts to justify public statements or to confront them, thus raising the quality of the public debate. Their role in the media landscape of CEE countries is getting bigger as new governments are in fact limiting the freedom of press by gaining personal control over state media or by threatening to cut ad spendings to private media. In such situation fact-checkers, not involved in the local capital, tend to be the last stronghold of objectivism and journalistic ethics.

There are some key challenges that fact-checkers are facing:

  • Scale & Sustainability
    It’s ethically doubtful to fundraise locally for the fact-checkers work and so the access to funds is limited; some fact-checkers fundraise abroad, many of them base on the volunteers work
  • Access to data
    Data availability and quality is quite low in the CEE region which is a huge barrier to fact-checking; We see that strengthening open data advocates and hackers will have a direct impact on fact-checkers work
  • Reach
    Given fact-checkers budget it’s hard for them to compete with big media. They have to find new channels of reaching out to the audience. Social media are successfully used to dodge suppression in the public, nevertheless still the audience is very small compared to the media in which fact-checked statements are circulating

Proposed project

We want to address challenges in fact-checkers reaching out to their audience. We envision creating a tool that after one-time install will inform users anytime they encounter fact-checked statements in the online media. This technique will allow to make readers better informed without changing their habits of media usage.

A picture is worth one thousand one pagers

“In the old days” reader had to navigate to Politifact (to give a widely known example) to check what has been fact-checked recently in topics that interest him/her

politifact1

With our tool the reader is automagically presented with the Truth-O-Meter ruling directly in the source that he is reading

politifact2


We could also inform users in the social media feed which articles has been fact-checked

politifact3