Staying balanced: protecting our impartiality in an election

15th Nov 2019 | Tom Phillips

As the UK’s independent fact checking charity, our reputation as an accurate, impartial source of information has always been our highest priority. 

But during an election, protecting our impartiality is vital. We all need unbiased facts to help make up our own minds about who to vote for. 

We’re two weeks into the campaign and already we’ve fact checked claims from all sides. You can sign up to our free newsletter for regular updates on all the key claims that we check.

At certain points during the election campaign, equal weighting of our fact checks will be more difficult. Big moments like speeches or manifesto launches may mean we have to check more claims on one side than the other, but we will strive to maintain an equal balance between parties over the course of the campaign. 

Here’s how we’re protecting our neutrality this election:

Fact checks

Throughout the campaign, we want to make sure the most harmful information is scrutinised and challenged. 

We will - as we always have - try to cover as many claims as we can. The generosity of our funders and individual supporters means we’re ready this election to spot false claims faster and more effectively, and push for corrections where we find them. 

We prioritise claims which have the most potential to mislead voters. 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 never want you to take our word for any conclusion we make. We provide links to all sources so that you can check what we’ve said for yourself and reach your own conclusions. We do not rely on unpublished evidence, private data, or anonymous sources. 

Even with the most rigorous standards in place, we know there’s a chance we’ll still make mistakes. When we do, we will correct these quickly, prominently and transparently - holding ourselves to the same standards we expect of politicians and the media.

Our neutrality

We have rigorous safeguards in place at every level of our organisation to ensure our neutrality. These have been carefully constructed based on advice from our board and examples including  the BBC. 

They include the cross-party board, fundraising safeguards, a conflict of interests policy, restrictions on staff political activity, feedback processes, operating guidelines, external reviews, and more. Most importantly, they include carefully recruiting staff who are sensitive to these issues. You can find full details of our neutrality safeguards here.

Our funding

We are a registered charity. None of our donors or funders have any influence over our editorial processes.

Our funding comes from charitable trusts including the Nuffield Foundation, Luminate (formerly the Omidyar Network) and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, as well as our Chairman, Michael Samuel and Google.org. 

We are also supported by the generosity of our individual donors. Full details of our funding can be found here.

As of January 2019 we also receive funding from Facebook to review images, videos and articles on the platform as a part of their Third Party Fact Checking initiative. You can read our latest report on how effective we think it is here.

Additional funding for our coverage of the general election has been kindly provided by the Nuffield Foundation. The foundation is financially and politically independent and has funded Full Fact as part of its work to ensure public debate in the run-up to the General Election is informed by independent and rigorous evidence. 

Working with the media

Hearing more from us than usual? Our election-special media work - including with Sky News, ITV, the Evening Standard, talkRADIO and LBC - means that the work we’re doing throughout the campaign will be reached by millions more people.

This work will increase the likelihood of politicians correcting the record. By providing journalists and broadcasters with our analysis of false claims, we can widen the reach of our fact checks.

Working with the media doesn't affect the fact checking process we use. All fact checks that we share with media partners go through the same thorough analysis and are published in full on our website. Our media partners have no influence on what we choose to fact check or the conclusions we reach. (We will also check them if they make mistakes.)

You can judge for yourself 

Ultimately, it is for you to judge whether we succeed. We encourage you to look at our body of work as a whole, and decide for yourself. But we never want you to take our word for it. All our sources are publicly available and we encourage you to look at a range of multiple sources before you make your own mind up.

We don’t care how you vote—we just want to make sure that when you do, you’re as informed as possible.

For more information on what we’re doing this election, you can read our pledge to you.

 

Want to stay more informed this election?
Sign up to our newsletter. 


We aim for our fact checks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please contact us.