We’ve moved well beyond just “information overload”. Today, content consumers in the digital age have to be aware of disinformation and misinformation overload. Fortunately, just as technology has advanced to the point of making such campaigns easier and more convincing than ever, so too has it brought about helpful fact checking tools that can act as a website content check or text checker for articles, news stories and other claims.
But which one is the best fact checker and how do they work? In this detailed article, we’ve done a roundup of some of our favorites. We’ll also go into more detail on how they work and when to use which one. Let’s jump right in!
Manual Fact-Checking Websites
These online platforms leverage trained professionals to manually evaluate stories and claims.
Snopes - Launched in 1994, Snopes is one of the oldest and most trusted fact checking websites. It covers everything from viral news to old urban legends across a wide range of topics.
FactCheck.org - Operated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, FactCheck.org takes a closer look at the accuracy and truth behind political statements and advertisements in the U.S.
PolitiFact - Through a manual process, PolitiFact fact-checkers use a Truth-o-Meter to determine the truth behind statements made by politicians, which range from True to “Pants on Fire”.
Automated Fact Checking Tools
These tools leverage a combination of machine learning, natural language processing and sophisticated algorithms to help pinpoint false information.
ClaimBuster - ClaimBuster scans through large amounts of text, like political speeches, to uncover statements that need fact-checking. Currently, it’s very much in the realm of developers, journalists and other professionals and is a work-in-progress.
Full Fact - Full Fact uses AI to automatically identify false claims in real-time. It’s generally used to flag statements in speeches by prominent public figures.
Originality.AI Fact Checking Tool - Originality.AI’s own comprehensive fact-checking tool leverages extensive use of AI, machine learning and NLP to fact-check statements made in your text either by pasting in the text or uploading a document. As with all of Originality.AI’s tools, it’s one of the most robust and reliable automated fact-checkers currently available.
Browser Extension Fact Check Apps
Browser extensions use a combination of AI and manual ratings to give users real-time feedback while browsing. They’re designed to offer immediate alerts when browsing claims or other questionable content.
NewsGuard - A browser extension that rates news websites based on their transparency and reliability. Each site is given a trustworthiness rating.
Media Bias/Fact Check - Also known as MBFC, this browser fact check app evaluates the factual accuracy of content and assesses bias across over 3,000 news websites.
Database Fact Checking Tools
Rather than platforms that use automated tools or manual teams, some organizations use database fact checking tools to help keep the public informed. They do not themselves assign ratings or reviews, however.
International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) - The IFCN maintains a code of principles that many fact-checking organizations, including Google Fact Check Explorer and Facebook Fact Checkers adhere to in order to ensure credibility.
EU vs. Disinfo - Managed by the European External Action Service, this tool serves as a database for pro-Kremlin disinformation stories.
Social Media Fact Checking Apps
Both Facebook and Google have recognized the role they play in the publishing and sharing of information and have incorporated fact-checking tools to help educate and inform the public.
Facebook’s Third-Party Fact Checking Program - By collaborating with independent third party fact-checking organizations, Facebook's algorithms help diminish the spread of false news. Read more about how Facebook’s fact checking program works.
Google Fact Check Explorer - Google’s highly successful Fact Checker provides summaries on claims and is a valuable tool for journalists, writers and everyday users looking to corroborate claims via search, images and more.
X/Twitter Fact-Checking Labels - X (formerly Twitter) attaches warning labels on disputed claims or misleading content, redirecting users to more authoritative sources.
Platforms like Wikipedia rely on the collective intelligence of their users to help maintain accuracy. Beyond Wikipedia, Emergent is a real-time rumor tracker that uses user feedback to evaluate viral stories.
The Future of Fact-Checking
As you can see, there are a variety of solutions and ideas for how to tackle the absolute avalanche of misinformation and disinformation out there. In the early days of fact-checking, publications on the internet were minimal and few manual fact-checks could handle the majority of the claims. But as the quantity and speed of information shared began to spread, more aggressive, faster and more thorough tools were needed.
Although machine learning and artificial intelligence have led to considerable advancements in the field of content evaluation in terms of their ability to sift through large amounts of information quickly and analyze patterns, there is still no 100% fool-proof fact checker.
Alongside these developments, the surge in deep fakes (media manipulated to make it look like one person’s likeness is replaced by another) are an entirely new frontier on the misinformation battlefield. New tools are being developed to not only detect these types of online forgeries but also trace where they came from, providing a more detailed, multi-pronged solution to content verification in all of its forms.
Greater Real-Time Collaboration
It’s important to remember though that no matter how the technology develops, the art and science of fact-checking isn’t just something that should be solely the responsibility of developers or social media or search engines. It should be a collaborative one.
With the rise of misinformation on a global scale, public and private organizations must join with technology companies and everyday users to help address the issue. One such initiative, First Draft’s CrossCheck, has helped to bridge the gap between journalists, newsrooms and tech companies to verify public information during crucial times, such as during election season.
Limitations and the Path Forward
Even with a highly-optimized, community based and technology founded team of fact checkers, there are still limitations to be aware of. As we move toward the future, it’s important to remember that all of the tools profiled here are just that: tools. It’s easy to become over-reliant on fact checkers or search for the best fact checker to help take some of the burden of manual work off your shoulders. However, misinformation campaigns are always evolving and there’s always the possibility of false positives or false negatives as part of the detection process.
Last but not least, it’s important to remember our human biases. Life experience has given them all to us in some form or another, and it’s through our data and our algorithms that AI is trained. Transparency in how these tools operate, as well as regular audits and keeping a “human in the loop” can help to soften the edge of fact-checker limitations.
No matter what, fact-checkers have a vital role to play now and well into the future. But as with any tools, they should be seen in the broader spectrum of creating a more informed society. A public that’s rooted in critical thinking and media literacy, with the right tools at hand can do much more in the fight against misinformation and disinformation than what any code or convincing video could create. It’s up to us to make that change happen.