Open Source Fact Checking Service

October 18, 2019

Misinformation is not new, neither is the wide, mass distribution of it. The problem nowadays is the plethora, amount, and platforms available to spread the misinformation. Another problem is that people who believe and spread misinformation can now find each other and congregate. It is important to verify facts, but with so many sources claiming to post the truth (online and off line) how can you check?

Reddit is one platform where misinformation spreads, however, it is gathering place for people to find truth and check facts. One of their popular threads is the “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” and recently they had one with Yaz Sinan. In his AMA titled, “I Built A Platform For Journalism With ‘Open Source’ Fact Checking. In The Age Of Information (And Misinformation (Overload), The Goal Is To Help The Best Journalists Stand Out By Making Their Fact Checking Process Fully Transparent And Reviewable.”

Yaz Sinan is a programmer living in Toronto, Canada. For the past three years, he has built fact checking tools. To test his tools, he has participated in over 500 fact checks. Sinan dubbed his platform Sourced Fact and the best thing about it is that it is open source! Sinan built this platform, because there are many projects in production intending to battle misinformation. Sinan does not think the projects will be able to keep up. His belief is that t takes more energy to refute BS than the energy to produce it.

Sourced Fact takes a different approach than other projects, because journalists upload their articles and annotate their articles with verified checks for readers. Sinan wants to make it easy for journalists to “show their work,” readers can review them, and it will make the journalists stand out from their peers. Sinan approaches Sourced Fact with an open mind and a lot of common sense:

“–  This approach only works for journalism covering information based on publicly reviewable evidence. This includes legislation, public government initiatives, whistle blower documents, and scientific data. This isn’t a good fit for journalism based on undocumented sources.

– This approach doesn’t eliminate bias. One can provide completely accurate facts and still introduce bias by omitting facts that don’t agree with their views. I do think however that helping the accurate provable facts stand out from everything else would still be a meaningful improvement to what we have today.

– – I don’t expect the average reader to click into and explore the evidence for every claim. Just like the average consumer of open source code rarely reads the code. The point though is that it’s out there for anyone who wants to check it, so whoever wants to double check can do so anytime.”

I want Sinan’s platform to become an industry standard for news outlets around the world, particularly the United States. Sinan, please apply for grants to make your genius Sourced Fact work!

Whitney Grace, October 18, 2019


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