Fact Checking Backward Through Time

November 26, 2020

Hooray for the truth! Though Business Dateline introduced corrections to online news stories in the mid-1980s, most online indexing services never bother to fix errors. Now, Internet archive the Wayback Machine is addressing this oversight with “Fact Checks and Context for Wayback Machine Pages,” the site announces on its blog. Writer Mark Graham reports:

“Fact checking organizations and origin websites sometimes have information about pages archived in the Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive has started to surface some of these annotations for Wayback Machine users. We are attempting to preserve our digital history but recognize the issues around providing access to false and misleading information coming from different sources. By providing convenient links to contextual information we hope that our patrons will better understand what they are reading in the Wayback Machine. As an example, Politifact has investigated a claim included in a webpage that we archived. Our.news has matched this URL to the Politifact review which allowed us to provide a yellow context banner for Wayback Machine patrons. In a different case, we surfaced the discovery that a webpage is part of a disinformation campaign according to the researchers at Graphika and link to their research report. As a last example, the Internet Archive archived a Medium post that was subsequently removed based on a violation of their Covid-19 Content Policy.”

The post supplies screenshots to illustrate the yellow context banners in each of the above examples. Graham makes it a point to acknowledge the work of several organizations that make it possible for the Wayback Machine to supply this context: FactCheck.org, Check Your Fact, Lead Stories, Politifact, Washington Post Fact-Checker, AP News Fact Check, USA Today Fact Check, Graphika, Stanford Internet Observatory, and Our.news. We are glad to see veracity still matters to many.

Cynthia Murrell, November 25, 2020


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