How do we look for claims?
For us, claims include viral messages, posts, pictures, videos, screenshots etc which contains information which is being shared widely or has a potential for impact. We monitor a wide range of online platforms in search of claims which may include but are not limited to, a claim that may put someone’s life in danger, attack or incite violence against vulnerable social groups like religious minorities, misrepresent historical facts and figures.
Do we select the claims?
We also encourage our readers to ‘Submit a claim’ on our website or send us a WhatsApp message on the Basic Fact Check hotline (03xxxxxxxxx) or send us an email at [email protected], we also allow social media users to share claims through our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. An option to share feedback is also available on all these platforms and any correction, if correctly pointed out will be credited to the account that sends us the correction.
Our scope for claims include:
- Speeches/ tweets/ posts of parliamentarians, political figures, and other people in positions of power.
- Statements from political parties through tweets and posts on their social media pages.
- Pictures and videos being circulated on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc which have become popular
- Factual statements on scientific concerns. This will include false statements made by social media influencers.
- Target list. It is a consistently updated list of social media accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram which have been noted to share false information with a large number of people. We check these platforms regularly.
- Trending hashtags on Twitter which may be a part of a disinformation campaign.
- Claims submitted by social media users through email, WhatsApp hotline, on our website or our Facebook page.
The selection of claims which are fact-checked in articles depends on relevance, proximity and time. This means that if the claim has surfaced recently or shared widely, then it’s on a higher priority to be fact-checked.
How do we fact-check?
There are three key features to the process of fact-checking a claim, our research process, the methods (web tools) we deploy and how we rate the claims.
Research and Verification
To verify a piece of news or a local fact for example a weather prediction, we directly establish correspondence with relevant authorities to verify a claim through official and publicly available data. If a piece of news misquotes an important public figure, we check it against the official transcription of the quote. Our first approach is always to track down the original source of the content that we analyse. We also mention very clearly in our articles the source of verification for each step with enough clarity that the reader is able to trace the step and replicate the result. Often to be able to engage with each piece of information in a complex news story, we clump multiple varied claims surrounding the political event and fact check them in the same article so that it can be established with clarity and the reader is able to understand each step of verification.
- We track the original source of information by reaching out to the person or organization who made the claim, this also allows them an opportunity to respond and elaborate.
- Official data provided by government institutions, online research of similar news and phone calls are steps which come before a real time visit to the field site.
Verifying Images and Videos
We carry out reverse image searches on major search engines like Google Image Search, Yandex, TinEye etc for previously posted versions of the image. For a video, we take screenshots of the video at several intervals and reverse image search those on search engines to find out where and when they were posted earlier. These images often also include screenshots of Breaking News bulletin from mainstream news channels. In which case, by analyzing the time and date, we find the bulletin online and verify if the screenshot quotes it correctly. Online platforms like InVID also provide a range of web tools to carry out the verification process to determine accuracy in videos and images.
- True – for a claim that is widely believed to be false but is factually true.
- False – for a claim that is widely believed to be true but is factually false.
- Misleading – for a claim that uses vague language to assert a statement that is false or exaggerate or underplay a factual truth.
- Partially True – for a claim that adds incorrect information or images taken out of context, to an existing true fact.
- Partially False – for a claim that is true but contains internal contradictions or audio-visual images taken out of context
To ensure accountability and transparency we encourage users to point out any inconsistencies or analytical deficiencies in our articles. We will upload a correction with due credit to the person or organization who instigates the process, within 7 days of receiving the request. In the event that we notice a mistake retrospectively, we will self-correct and make relevant additions instantly.