Duke lab gives fact-checkers, researchers new tools to thwart misinformation

Powerful global databases offer new insights into political claims and hoaxes, and help debunk manipulated images and video

By Erica Ryan – December 15, 2023 | Print this article

Researchers and journalists covering the battle against misinformation have a powerful new tool in their arsenal — a groundbreaking collection of fact-checking data that covers tens of thousands of harmful political claims and online hoaxes.

Fact-Check Insights, a comprehensive global database from the Duke Reporters’ Lab that launches this week, contains structured data from more than 180,000 claims from political figures and social media accounts that have been analyzed and rated by independent fact-checkers. The project was created with support from the Google News Initiative.

The Fact-Check Insights database is powered by ClaimReview — which has been called the world’s most successful structured journalism project — and its sibling MediaReview. The twin tagging systems allow fact-checkers to enter standardized data about their fact-checks, such as the statement being fact-checked, the speaker, the date, and the rating.

“ClaimReview and MediaReview are the secret sauce of fact-checking,” said Bill Adair, director of the Reporters’ Lab and the Knight professor of journalism and public policy at Duke. “This data will give researchers a much easier way to study how politicians lie, where false information spreads, and other vital topics so we can better combat misinformation.”

This rich, important dataset is updated daily, summarizing articles from dozens of fact-checkers around the world, including well-known organizations such as FactCheck.org, PesaCheck, Factly, Full Fact, Chequeado and Pagella Politica. It is ready-made for download in JSON and CSV formats. Access is free for researchers, journalists, technologists and others in the field, but registration is required.

Archiving tool for fact-checkers

Along with Fact-Check Insights, the Reporters’ Lab is launching MediaVault, a unique and unprecedented tool for fact-checkers who are working to debunk manipulated images and videos shared around the world.

MediaVault is a cutting-edge system that collects and stores images and videos that have been analyzed by reputable fact-checking organizations. The MediaVault archive allows fact-checkers to maintain a vital portion of their work, which would otherwise disappear when posts are removed from social media platforms. It also enables quicker research and identification of previously published images and videos in misleading social media posts.

“MediaVault is the first archival system that is specifically tailored to the needs of fact-checkers,” Adair said. “Our team developed this system after seeing too many posts go missing after being fact-checked. We realized fact-checkers needed a custom-made solution.”

MediaVault is free for use by fact-checkers, journalists and others working to debunk misinformation shared online, but registration is required. This project also received support from the Google News Initiative.

The Reporters’ Lab team behind the Fact-Check Insights and MediaVault projects includes lead technologist Christopher Guess, project manager Erica Ryan, ClaimReview/MediaReview manager Joel Luther, and Lab co-director Mark Stencel. The team was assisted by Duke University researcher Asa Royal, along with developer Justin Reese and designer Joanna Fonte of Bad Idea Factory.