Truthsquad Fact-Checks Controversial Claims

By: Heidi Kulicke

Sifting through the falsehoods and half-true sentiments popping up left and right online is Truthsquad, a journalist-driven, community fact-checking experiment of NewsTrust, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity. The site ( aims to help viewers decipher what’s fact and what’s fiction on the Internet, and is gearing up for an especially active 2012 election season.

Truthsquad’s goal is to give readers new tools for checking information on the Web — and, in the process, help build media literacy skills with the guidance of professionals, as stated on Truthsquad’s home page. The underlying concept is to combine the center’s newsroom of investigative journalists with crowd-sourcing and partner contributions while engaging visitors. Truthsquad doesn’t just target politicians, but media pundits and public figures as well.

Past topics have included claims such as, “Social security does not add one penny to the deficit,” (Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL); “Eighty-seven million Americans will be forced out of their coverage by Obama’s health care plan,” (Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT); “Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year,” (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC); and “U.S. government calculates inflation without adding in the price of food and energy,” (Glenn Beck, Fox News).

Here’s how it works: Readers click on a quote, and each quote has links of related evidence to support or disqualify the claim. Readers can then add their two cents and mark whether they believe the quote is true, false, or mark that they’re not sure. And readers are welcome to change their answer as many times as they’d like, as more evidence continues to be presented. After a period of time, Truthsquad editors sift through the evidence and present a final verdict, declaring it true, false, mostly true, mostly false, or half true.

Truthsquad directly addresses the need to decipher the accuracy of information overflowing from the Web and traditional media outlets. But what differentiates Truthsquad from other fact-checking and investigative organizations such as PolitiFact and is the participation it encourages from the public; however, there is no expectation that citizens will be better equipped to find falsehoods than journalists.

In the future, Truthsquad aims to create embeddable widgets for stories on any news site, encouraging the public to look deeper into issues and find out for themselves how true a statement really is. Newspapers can capitalize on this idea by creating fact-checking on their own websites, as news sites Voice of San Diego and Honolulu Civil Beat have. By connecting readers to news that matters to them on a community level while getting readers involved in the process, news organizations can create loyal readers and educated consumers.

Like & Share E&P:
Follow by Email

2 thoughts on “Truthsquad Fact-Checks Controversial Claims

  • October 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Somehow you got through the 2008 election without “properly vetting” (defined as treating someone like you treat Republicans and Conservatives) Obama. Most recently you have Arab Spring which is turning into a Sharia driven disaster. Even after Tunisia and Libya announced Sgaria will be the dominant legal structure your “journalists” are reporting the happy democrats governments in the Arab crescent. Oh, now there is the withdrawal from Iraq. I’m waiting for the first harsh peice setting the table for Obama to create a Middle East disaster (waiting for the New York Times to even ask about materiel being left in place. How about the democrats cowardly begging for monie to be distributed to their union allies in the states through the Jobs Bill? You obviously use Fact Checking as a driver for YOUR political domiinance and as such it should be ignored by every thinking citizen, and slowly but surely is. Have you folks figured out yet that as your credibility shrinks, so does your revenue? How about fact checking your own Business Intelligence which is driving your attitudes?

  • October 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    So glad to know of this work of the Center for Public integrity, which I have admired and trusted since it went to “work” on ALEC.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *