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Social Studies Subject Guide: Dialogue for Democracy

Fact Checking Toolbox

Fact Checking Toolbox

This nonprofit organization is affiliated with The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  Provides articles that fact check recent events. Use the top bar menu to search by TOPICS or use SEARCH and plug in keywords to search the entire site.  Very useful website.

"PolitiFact is a nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics. PolitiFact was created by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, in 2007. In 2018, PolitiFact was acquired by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists."  --from their website.  A highly reliable source.

The site's mission is to "expose people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other."  They examine news stories from various angles of the political spectrum.

The Poynter Institute teaches "those who manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design, whether they belong to news organizations or work as independent entrepreneurs. We teach those who teach, as well as students in middle school, high school and college—the journalists of tomorrow."  --from their website.  A top-notch resource.

Dialogue for Democracy: Journalists' Tools for Fact Checking

Goals for the Visit

  • Introduce some reliable fact-checking tools
  • Offer some practice using lateral reading
  • Practice checking on the accuracy of a photograph or video clip


Lateral Reading

Introduction to Information Verification:  Part I
Students, Historians, and Fact Checkers at Stanford University took on the task of determining whether a website was credible. Who do you think won?  Watch and see...


Group Challenges
Your task:  You have 10 minutes to:

  • Use lateral reading skills to open outside tabs to evaluate the quality and accuracy of the information source.
  • Fact check this information, using one required fact check source, plus at least two other sources.
  • Is the information accurate, misleading, or a partial truth? Is anything taken out of context, or misattributed?  See what you can find out.

Prepare to report back to the whole group about the steps you took, and what you found out.

GROUP 1: Political Advertising: Trump & Fauci
Donald Trump Challenges Dr. Anthony Fauci's Accuracy on Coronavirus Pandemic.

This is an online article from a news website.  Please use PolitiFact and two other sources. What can you find out?

GROUP 2:  Instagram Checkup
Kamala Harris's Instagram post on Social Security. Take a look at AllSides as one of your three sources.

GROUP 3: Fired Up on Twitter
Here's a Tweet from an Oregon candidate for US Senate.  Please try Snopes as one of your 3 sources to fact-check his claim.

The Barnes Review Magazine and Bookstore
This is a website and publisher. Click above, and practice your lateral reading starting with Wikipedia, and finding 3 sources overall.


Just Because You Saw It Doesn't Mean It's True. Or Real. Or...

Photo & Video Verification
There is a fast, non-technical way to trace the story behind a photo or video.  Use Google Reverse Image Search to find out more. It's quick, efficient, and helpful.  For videos, take a screenshot of a critical scene.

Practice Your Skills
In small groups, please take a look at your group's photo/video clip, and try to figure out the following using Google Reverse Image Search.  Throw in some Lateral Reading techniques once you get the basic information. 

  • What is this photo/video trying to show?
  • Has it been altered?  In what way?
  • Has it been correctly attributed / captioned? 
  • What are some reasons why the image may have been handled in this way? 

Group 1:  Mystery photo


Group 2: Mystery photo

Group 3: Mystery photo

Group 4: Mystery Photo

A deepfake video is one that looks authentic, and uses synthetic means to alter the words or image of the speaker. When done well, they can be dangerously realistic and hard to detect. 

Your US Librarian

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Sue Phillips
Upper School Library
503.297.1894 x4550 (circulation desk); (503)297-1894 x4100 (voicemail)


Photo credits: #1: #2:  #3:  #4: