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Factcheckers take on fake news: our week on the air waves

24th Feb 2017 | Tom Hegarty

About a month ago, Full Fact’s phone rang with the kind of offer you move everything else around to accept - we were invited onto CBBC Newsround to tell a class of children how to spot fake news and not get caught out by it. This was a childhood dream being realised for most of us!

Luckily, we’d already been looking into the developing debate about fake news and discussing the best contribution we could make.

As internationally-recognised factcheckers who have been debunking dodgy claims and correcting misinterpretations about statistics for six years, we have a huge amount of relevant knowledge and experience for working out the facts behind a headline.   

The first question we asked was - what actually is fake news? Is there a single definition that makes sense? We put together this video, featuring Full Fact’s head of communications and impact, Phoebe Arnold.

On Tuesday, CBBC broadcast our segment on Newsround. CBBC presenter Ricky Boleto showed a class of 8-10 year olds from Wilmslow Grange Primary school in Cheshire six fake news stories and asked them if they thought there was anything odd about them.

Then our senior researcher and lead on statistics Joseph O’Leary put them through a quick masterclass, emphasising to always look for the source in a news story, and asking parents and experts which sources are good ones for them to trust.

The children’s responses were fantastic and helped to make this one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve ever had as part of our media work. Take a look.

Joseph was up again at half four in the morning on Wednesday, pulling double duty on the morning shows of BBC Radio Manchester and Lancashire looking back at his experience on Newsround.

Meanwhile, Full Fact’s Director Will Moy was also in the area, appearing on BBC Breakfast at Media City Salford, with presenters  Dan Walker and Sally Nugent.

On fake news, Will said the best questions to ask about any news story you think might be fake is: ‘How do you know that? Can you show us your source?’ How did they get the information behind the story?



And this morning it was Phoebe’s turn to get the train up to Salford (dodging the remnants of Storm Doris on the way) to take part in a Facebook Live Q&A with Ricky on fake news, going out on the BBC Family News Facebook page.

At one point more than 2,700 people were watching the live feed, and more than 100,000 have watched it since. It’s really encouraging to see this level of engagement with our work in fake news and makes us all the more determined to keep it up in the future.


We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.