The year of the fact-checking bot

“The falsehoods will continue, but the bots will be a force multiplier to provide people with the truth.”

A year ago, I predicted that 2016 would be the year of Pinocchios and Pants on Fire. I said fact-checking would flourish, that seasonal players such as The New York Times would ramp up for the election and that candidates would often cite fact-checks to attack their opponents.

bill-adairI rate my predictions Mostly True.

Sites such as PolitiFact, The Washington Post, and FactCheck.org continued to have record traffic and achieved a new level of prominence. Even Donald Trump, who broke records for falsehoods, favorably cited the fact-checkers when they called out Hillary Clinton.

But I didn’t foresee the onslaught of fake news, which fact-checkers were slow to recognize. I also fell a little short with my hope that on election night, the winning candidate would proclaim “how the American people recognized that truth matters.”

Um, that didn’t quite happen.

But that won’t deter the fact-checkers and the growing army of researchers and computer scientists who are exploring how to automate this important journalism.

In the past few years, there’s been quiet progress. A team at the University of Texas-Arlington has been refining ClaimBuster, a tool that does the work of dozens of college interns, finding factual claims from TV shows and legislative floor debates. In Britain, the fact-checker Full Fact is developing tools that track political claims. At Duke University, we developed Share the Facts, a widget that helps search engines find fact-checking articles, and we built a Chrome browser extension that provides pop-up fact-checking during live events such as presidential debates.

I predict that 2017 will be the year of the fact-checking bot. Watch for these organizations and others to find new ways to automate. At Duke, we will be launching a major project to better coordinate the projects around the world and provide seamless automated fact-checking on many platforms.

The falsehoods will continue, but the bots will be a force multiplier to provide people with the truth.

Bill Adair is the creator of PolitiFact and a professor at the Sanford School for Public Policy at Duke University.

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Trushar Barot   API or die

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy