Reporters’ Lab, IFCN to host conference about automated fact-checking

The March 31-April 1 conference will showcase new research to use computational power to help fact-checkers.

By Alexios Mantzarlis – January 21, 2016 | Print this article

The Reporters’ Lab and Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network  will host “Tech & Check”, the first conference to explore the promise and challenges of automated fact-checking.

Tech & Check, to be held March 31-April 1 at Duke University, will bring together experts from academia, journalism and the tech industry. The conference will include:

  1. Demos and presentations of current research that automates fact-checking
  2. Discussions about the institutional challenges of expanding the automated work
  3. Discussions on new areas for exploration, such as live fact-checking and automated annotation.

Research in computational fact-checking has been underway for several years, but has picked up momentum with a flurry of new projects.

While automating fact-checking entirely is still the stuff of science fiction, parts of the fact-checking process such as gathering fact-checkable claims or matching them with articles already published seem ripe for automation. As natural language processing (NLP) and other artificial intelligence tools become more sophisticated, the potential applications for fact-checking will increase.

Indeed, around the world several projects are exploring ways to make fact-checking faster and smarter through the use of technology. For example, at Duke University, an NSF-funded project uses computational power to help fact-checkers verify common claims about the voting records of members of Congress. The University of Texas-Arlington has developed a tool called ClaimBuster that can analyze long transcripts of debates and suggest sentences that could be fact-checked. At Indiana University, researchers have experimented with a tool that uses Wikipedia and knowledge networks to verify simple statements. Fact-checkers in France, Argentina, the U.K. and Italy are also doing work in this field.

The conference is made possible with support by, among others, the Park Foundation. More details will be published in the coming weeks.

Researchers and journalists interested in attending the conference should contact the International Fact-Checking Network at factchecknet@poynter.org