Recently I witnessed the question “Who is fact-checking you?” popping up on Social Media more and more. Not aimed at me, but at good people I follow. That question is a sign of ignorance and misunderstanding of the process. In my opinion, it’s a testament to one of the most underrated issues of our society: the missing ability to check and verify the information yourself.
What is fact-checking?
Fact-checking is an elementary form of research. If you are confronted with new information, you look for the real source of this information. If you get it from someone who just heard/read it somewhere and you don’t know where it comes from, you can not judge if the source is trustworthy. If you find the source, look if the statements make sense. Is it about what someone said in an interview? Check the interview, not an article about someone writing about the interview. About science? Is the source a scientific paper that quotes other sources, or is it a text that is all anecdote and no data?
Depending on what you are fact-checking, the process differs.
Why you need to fact-check yourself
Because you never know the reasons why other people do it. More often than not, so-called fact-checkers are on the payroll of governments, corporations, or NGOs with their own agenda, which is not revealing the truth but supporting their interests. These fact-checkers are just part of the propaganda machine.
If you can’t do it yourself, have someone on your team who can do it, or you lose in the information war.
Here is the absolute basic process if you want to get started with fact-checking yourself.
- Check Google and DuckDuckGo for the stuff you want to read about. We use 2 different search engines to rule out algorithmic bias or censorship. You can use any 2 search engines of your choice as long the second is not based on the first. If you can not confirm this info, just go with Google and DuckDuckGo.
- See if you can find the original source. Example: if it is about something someone said: try to find a video interview where he did. Then check if the video has been cut at that place. If yes, it might be out of context as it has been edited.
- If your results from multiple search engines align, you are good to go. Otherwise, you need to properly research the stuff.