How we fact check
If you’re interested in developing your fact checking skills, Full Fact Training offers training in fact checking as well as analysing and communicating data.
How we choose what to check
We fact check claims in public debate which are of public interest. This includes—but is not limited to—claims made by politicians and the media.
We prioritise claims that have the most potential to cause harm to people’s lives. That could mean that they’ve been widely shared online, or feature prominently in newspapers or broadcast media, or are repeated multiple times by a party’s candidates.
We base our core areas of concern to the topics which consistently top the Ipsos MORI Issues Index. They include crime and immigration, the law, education, health and social care, and the economy.
We fact check claims from across the political spectrum and from different sides of important debates.
How you can tip up off about a claim to check
Contact us with your fact check request.
We cannot promise to check every claim suggested. Please say what impact you think the claim would have if it’s left unchecked.
How we check
We use the same approach whatever claim we are checking and whoever is making it.
First we need to understand what has been said or printed. We don’t only fact check the evidence used in a claim, but also the underlying assumption. Factually correct information can be used to make a point which is misleading or incorrect, so it’s important to draw out exactly what someone means when they make a statement.
Then we contact the claimant. Unless the claim’s source is self-evident, we try to contact the claimant to ask them about their source, and for any other information we need to understand it, or to give them a right to reply.
Then we gather our evidence. We always try and gather a wide range of sources of evidence relating to a claim. You can read more about our sources in the “What kind of sources do you use?” question above.
Sometimes we contact experts. We cover a wide range of topic areas, and we’re not experts on everything. We want to ensure we’re giving readers the most complete picture we can, and sometimes we need guidance in finding or understanding information. In these cases we speak to relevant experts for advice and explain who they are if we quote them.
Once the evidence is gathered and analysed, we can write the article. We don’t want to tell you what to think, articles are meant to guide you through all the evidence as clearly as possible so you can make up your own mind about a claim. We’ll also explain the wider context around the issue when it’s relevant to do so.
We summarise the claims we’re fact checking, and our corresponding conclusions, at the top of each article.
Review before publishing. Everything we publish on our website is reviewed by another researcher before publication in order to make sure that it is correct, impartial and engaging. If the topic is politically sensitive our Director may also review it.
We'll add a disclosure if there's something you might want to know about us in relation to the fact check. For example, if we're fact checked if we are fact checking our trustees or funders we'll say so.
Then we publish. The article will go up on our website, and will be publicised on our social media platforms. Often we have partnerships with different media outlets, who re-publish some of our fact checks.
It doesn’t stop there. If a politician or journalist doesn’t have the evidence to back up what they say, we demand that they publish their evidence. When they get it wrong, we ask for the record to be corrected.
And when and where our press, politicians and internet companies aren’t doing enough to support honesty and transparency, we campaign for change. Find out more about how we campaign for good information.
What kind of sources we use
We draw on publicly available information, including statistics and primary research.
We provide links to primary sources for all factual assertions wherever possible and aim to provide at least two sources to verify the central claim of a check unless there is only one relevant source. We prefer to link to data tables, legal documents, or other primary sources rather than press releases or executive summaries of statistical releases.
We won’t include anonymous sources except in cases where the source’s safety is at risk and the information they have provided is both necessary for the and corroborated by another source we can identify. This very rare.
How we do live fact checking
We have fact checked a wide range of topics in the past and we’ve built automated fact checking technology to help us respond quickly to new claims.
We prepare carefully in the run up to political events or programmes, getting to know our way around the relevant sources, and the key claims and arguments.
The Meta Third Party Fact Checking programme
Meta, the company which owns Facebook and Instagram, works with independent fact checkers around the world to fact check content that the company thinks might be misleading and harmful. We’ve published a separate explanation of how that programme works.