Facts are facts, but the way they’re presented (or ignored) can still be biased. Information based in fact can imply things that are misleading or even turn out to be untrue.
To better reveal the truth and reality we all seek, AllSides is launching our Facts and Fact Checking Portal. Here, we’ll curate a balanced spread of the latest fact check articles, in-depth research reports, investigations and more.
What’s important is the underlying reality. Reality is often nuanced or not as clearly one-sided when you see the whole picture. Information and research can be rooted in truth, but fact checkers and fact checking websites often get caught up in playing “gotcha” or lost in their own bias, agenda or bubble. Reality can get lost.
At AllSides, we are fans of fact checkers and fact checking sites. We think they serve a noble and important purpose. Fact checking has become a popular, valuable tool in online journalism and media, and is often used to vet the claims of politicians, scientists, pundits, everyday social media users, and conspiracy theorists.
But a fact checker’s work can easily be shaped by their own agenda, political bias and groupthink. Intentional or not, bias and subjective judgement impacts how they pick which claims to investigate and which data or perspectives to use or ignore. It also impacts their final true/false judgements which are frequently far more subjective than you might expect.
Issues and Bias in Fact Checking
Such an important public service needs to have critical review and balance – it is too important to just accept blindly as accurate, final or complete. AllSides can help.
Over time, we will group facts and fact checking by topic to help provide a more complete understanding of core issues – not just a list of claims, but a more complete picture of reality. We’ll also provide fact check outlets with a bias rating whenever possible — we’ve already rated the bias of Politifact, FactCheck.org, Check Your Fact, AP Fact Check, and others.
“The news has lost its way a bit when it comes to fact checking,” said AllSides CEO and Co-Founder John Gable. “Quite often, it’s less about informing, and more about “gotcha” and feeding partisan self-righteousness. It’s less about understanding nuance, and more about supporting a particular narrative. That’s really not what good journalism or the internet is supposed to be about.”
For examples of the problem, look no further than the avalanche of misinformation that followed President Trump’s press briefing inquiry about possibly treating the coronavirus with disinfectant, or how one fact checker initially called President Obama’s promise that you can keep your health care plan true and then later reversed itself after the bill was passed, calling the promise the “lie of the year”.
Even fact checkers themselves fall victim to media bias and poor practices. Now, AllSides is taking extra action to address that — at a time when our audience has never needed it more.
Fact Checking in the Age of COVID-19
Amid what’s been called an “infodemic” brought on by the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the balanced, unbiased news AllSides provides has never been more necessary. Getting multiple perspectives from across the political spectrum can help you to spot types of media bias and avoid being fooled by fake news. We have even started curating facts and fact checking specifically on COVID-19.
Our recent examination of the media’s fact-checking of Trump’s now infamous disinfectant inquiries — which led to an onslaught of misinformation and misleading content — was one of our most popular articles of 2020. In other words, people are hunting for the truth on the nation’s biggest stories, and AllSides provides balanced news, media bias ratings, and now, balanced fact check articles to help convey that truth.
“Obviously when lives are at stake, the truth becomes even more important,” Gable said. “There’s never been a better time for us to launch our Facts and Fact Checking operation.”
AllSides’ Mission Leads to Fact Checking
AllSides was founded to address a fundamental problem. Rather than empowering people to know more and make better decisions, the internet has often put people into bubbles where they get narrow, one-sided views that are often at odds with reality. The content and perspectives they see either reflect what they like (so they will click or buy more), what other people want them to think (advertisers, media companies and politicians pushing their own agenda), or the majority view (mob mentality).
This doesn’t look like an age of individual empowerment and better decision making that early internet pioneers had hoped for. It is instead an age of tribal allegiance and mass manipulation, and news media and even fact checking are falling into the same trap.
By providing different perspectives, AllSides can free people from narrow, one-sided bubbles that mislead, misinform and enrage us, helping to shed light on reality and reduce tribal division.
“What we realized is that when you get a diverse group of people commenting on the same thing, the truth often reveals itself,” Gable said, “or at least we get a more complete picture.”
AllSides is committed to being the internet’s #1 source of balanced news, information and dialogue from diverse perspectives. This new section was created with that in mind. We want you, our audience, to come to AllSides.com looking for what is really going on, and leave feeling more wholly informed and better able to think critically and participate in democracy.
This piece was reviewed by Samantha Shireman (Information Architect, Lean Left bias) and Julie Mastrine (Director of Marketing, Lean Right bias).