Tools to Check Facts

Whether you are a teacher, a student, an activist, a health worker, a journalist or just a regular citizen, have you ever thought of checking whether a public figure is telling the truth or distorting it? Or how can you spot what is real and what is fake? A simple advice to all is always ask questions and seek for evidence. Because, the photos, videos, posts and websites on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube can be faked. If you suspect anything d a fact-check.

Here, we give you some fact-checking tips to check photos, websites, social media viral info, video and even deepfakes.

Spotting fakes

Some claims are presented not in words but in photos, videos and other content sent to you or published online. Photos, videos, documents, websites and posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media can all be faked. 

How can you spot what is real and what is fake? These are our fact-checking tips.

Before you start to look for evidence to check online material, engage your brain. Do the images or words ring true? Is the person likely to use that language or sentiment? Is it the sort of thing they might really have said?


We all understand when people are taken in by clever hoaxes. But if it is obvious, after the event, that the person would have been unlikely to say the words quoted, and you did not check, you may look foolish.


So first, think. And then, if in doubt, check with the person or organization quoted.

Hoaxers are often let down by the details. Always be sceptical. The quote used in this meme is not wrong, but something should make you realise it was probably not the 19th century US president who said it.


Look at the phrase used and ask if it would have been said at the time. Look at the photo or video and assess if the light and shade falls naturally. Perhaps, in the background, there are things that should be there but aren’t, or shouldn’t be there but are. 


Is the weather in the image or video the kind of weather you would expect in that place, at that time of year? Are the views, plants, cars and buildings what you would expect to see?


If the details are out of place, it may be a hoax.

Hoaxes are often copied, and have a long life online. If you are suspicious about an image or text, check if it – or something similar – has been published somewhere else before.


Run a Twitter search for the material with the hashtag #fake to see if other Twitter users have called it out.

The Twitter logo is seen on a phone. (Photo: Alastair Pike / AFP)

To see if text has been published before, drop it into Google search.


Photos and screenshots of videos can be uploaded onto reverse image search engines such as TinEye, Yandex and Google Images. These help you check if and where the image has been published online before. TinEye also allows you to search for the oldest, largest and most modified version of the image.


If the image, or one very like it, has been published previously in a different context, it may be being used in a hoax. 

People often use the same username on different platforms, so if you’re looking for similar material from the same person, search for their username on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and other platforms.

If you have doubts about the source of some information, and have the numerical address – the IP code – of the computer it came from, enter this into to find out which country the computer is in.

Be persistent

Fact-checking takes time and persistence. When someone tries to fob you off, refusing to give you data you are entitled to, or failing to provide evidence that backs up their claim, keep pushing.

Verifying public debate is not easy. The devil is often in the detail. To find it you need stamina and persistence.

Be open and accept you’ll have critics

Finally, be open in the way you write up any fact-checking report, providing links to your evidence. And be honest. If you make a mistake, admit it. Even so, you must accept that you won’t convince everyone.

Most people are reluctant to accept evidence that contradicts something they believe. And some will never be convinced, no matter how much careful argument and well-linked evidence you present. 

Scientists call this the “persistence of discredited beliefs”. Here’s how the psychologists Craig Anderson and Lee Ross explain it: “Beliefs can survive potent logical or empirical challenges. They can survive and even be bolstered by evidence that most uncommitted observers would agree logically demands some weakening of such beliefs. They can even survive the total destruction of their original evidential bases.”



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