Fact checks alone are not enough to halt the spread of misinformation. When we see an inaccurate claim being repeated, we get in touch with those responsible to correct the record. We’ve secured corrections from the then Prime Minister David Cameron, both sides of the House of Commons, national charities, and every major newspaper. You can read more about our corrections work on our blog.
When we see a misleading or unsubstantiated claim, we push for corrections and withdrawals. But we also want to prevent inaccurate claims from being made in the first place. Our long-term objective is to make sure there are systems in place so that only valid and validated claims are put into the public domain, and that the public is able to check for themselves.
We concentrate on the areas that are top of the public’s concerns, according to the Ipsos MORI Issues Index: the economy, crime, health, immigration, education, the law, and Europe.
The articles we publish are mostly fact checks. These are short to medium length articles assessing the validity of a claim that has been made in public debate. As well as explaining the claim at length, we provide a brief claim and conclusion summary alongside the article.
We have regular round-up articles. Every week, we fact check Prime Minister’s Questions and BBC Question Time, and publish a round-up of the main claims that have been made.
From time to time, we publish explainer articles on topics of ongoing contention or misunderstanding, with the aim of eventually providing a baseline of reliable, up-to-date, accurate information for each of our topic areas.
We also produce educational tools for use by students, teachers and the general public. From tips on spotting fake news, videos of our latest talks and what books to read to learn more about data, we aim to provide resources for you to use in daily life to check the claims that matter to you.
Behind the scenes
Full Fact isn’t looking to catch people out. Our mission is to improve the quality and accountability of public debate for everyone, and that means stopping misinformation at its source. For example, we worked with the Government Statistical Service to redevelop their spreadsheet guidance, making public data easier to access and understand.
No politician should make a claim that can’t be backed up by publicly available data. In this context, Full Fact works to make the UK Statistics Authority’s Code of Practice a reality. In September 2015, the Department of Health introduced an internal data document, listing the sources of any claims made by ministers, "to enable our Media Centre to respond rapidly to queries from the media and from organisations such as Full Fact concerning the source of facts in ministerial speeches”.
When necessary, we refer cases of malpractice to the relevant regulatory body.
What we don’t do
We fact check claims, not people. We publish fact checks and push for corrections from individuals where necessary, but we can only assess the validity of a claim, not the intention of the person who made it.
There are certain topics that we don’t fact check, either because we don’t yet have the resources, or because the sources don’t exist in the public domain.
With claims about foreign affairs and defence, there is a lack of independent sources and many sources are classified, which means that we can’t fact check them.
For other areas, such as the environment and other scientific topics, we don’t yet have the in-house expertise to do the claims justice. We step in when the debate is about issues of policy, such as with the Energy Bill.
We check claims that are of national interest in areas where we have expertise. This means that we don’t comprehensively fact check claims that are specific to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. For Northern Ireland, you can check out the recently launched FactCheckNI.
We are not (yet) an encyclopedia of current affairs. While some fact checks naturally include the background of a claim, to give you the full picture, we don’t generally publish articles about areas where a claim hasn’t been made.
This is something we’re working on. For the EU referendum, for example, we have teamed up with a group of the UK’s leading EU legal experts to produce a series of explainers about the most commonly misunderstood aspects of the debate.
The Full Fact team is regularly invited to speak at international technology and journalism events. Recent engagements have included Google’s journalism training days, the Political Accountability and New Technologies Conference in Bosnia, the International Journalism Festival in Italy, and many others.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to invite Full Fact to your event.