The lessons of Squash, our groundbreaking automated fact-checking platform
June 28, 2021
Tech & Check is a collection of products and tools that use automation and other technologies to expand the reach of fact-checking and help fact-checkers do their work.
Squash, Tech & Check Alerts and other tools were supported by $1.2 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project and the Craig Newmark Foundation.
In the past, we have also developed fact-checking applications for voice-activated assistants, such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo, as a way to test using natural language processing to identify and deliver relevant fact-checks.
Along the way, we’ve worked with many collaborators, including The Washington Post, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and other fact-checkers; Google, Facebook, YouTube, Schema.org, Jigsaw and other tech organizations; the Bad Idea Factory software development collective; researchers and computer scientists at Duke, the University of Texas at Arlington and at Digital Democracy, an initiative of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy at the California Polytechnic State University; the International Fact-Checking Network and more.
Tech & Check also served as a hub for other researchers building automated fact-checking projects. We hosted conferences, an email listserv and regular video discussions that brought together technologists, journalists and academics working on similar projects.
For more information about Tech & Check, contact Reporters’ Lab co-director Mark Stencel or project manager Erica Ryan.
ClaimReview is a tagging system that makes it easier for search engines and other tech platforms to find and highlight fact-check articles published by journalists around the world. It standardizes fact-checking content in a machine-readable way that allows journalists and developers to create new apps and other technologies, and provides a dataset for academic researchers looking to analyze the work of fact-checkers for social science purposes. ClaimReview was developed by the Reporters’ Lab in partnership with Schema.org and Jigsaw, and it has been supported by Google and Facebook. Visit The ClaimReview Project for more information.
MediaReview is a sibling to ClaimReview that is under development. It is specifically designed for tagging fact-checks that involve manipulated images, video or audio. The goal is to establish consistent terminology and enable clear and consistent communication between fact-checkers and the tech platforms. MediaReview is based on a taxonomy developed by The Washington Post and has been refined through an open development process involving fact-checkers, researchers, technologists and others. The development of MediaReview has been funded by Google and Facebook. Discover more about MediaReview here.
Squash is a groundbreaking experimental platform that provides live, automated fact-checking during political events like debates and speeches. It converts audio from an event into text and then searches for matches among the previously published fact-checks in the ClaimReview database. Relevant matches are chosen by human editors and displayed on users’ screens within seconds of the politician making the claim. While our initial development of Squash has wrapped up, we welcome other journalists and developers to build on our efforts. Contact Erica Ryan for more information.
Tech & Check Alerts is an automated service that helps fact-checkers find claims to check. Using the ClaimBuster tool — an algorithm that scores sentences based on how checkable they are — the service combs through official transcripts and social media posts, then sends participating fact-checkers a daily email with statements they might be interested in scrutinizing. For more information about Tech & Check Alerts, contact Reporters’ Lab co-director Mark Stencel.
The FactStream iOS app brings together the work of three of the largest U.S. fact-checking organizations, The Washington Post, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. The app, which grew out of the ClaimReview database, allows users to get notifications of the latest fact-checks as they’re published. You can download the app here.