False or misleading news pieces or claims can be sent to us through our email, fact-check helpline number, or our social media platforms. Our social media and input teams spend hours interacting with news pieces, online and those received by our reporters. Most of our verifying and debunking are based on their recommendations, or our own team scouring the internet for factual misrepresentation. Focus has always remained on stories or claims with larger implications, wider audiences, pertinent or trending topics, and areas of regular mis/disinformation. Here, we discuss and consider the potential harm that could be caused, the potential reach (virality), the individual(s)/account(s) making the claim(s), the potential consequences or importance of the claim, and the time horizon (old or new). We focus on verifying and working to debunk misleading political news, current affairs, and major events like the Covid-19 outbreak and statements surrounding it. Our fact-checks range from sports, health, lifestyle, and history to policy, among other topics.
Once a few important claims have been selected, the first step is to identify the source(s), platform(s), and the original claim itself. This helps us identify the extent of the spread. The source/ link of the misleading claim is hyperlinked at the end of the article for all readers to see.
This is dependent on the type of content: text, video, and photographs are the most common. Different methods include calling all stakeholders, our ground reporters, using official government data, and gathering information from internationally and nationally reputed social and media organizations and various non-governmental international institutions like the WHO (especially during the first Covid-19 wave). A simple and generalized approach is mentioned below which allows readers to use simple methods to identify fake news or mis/disinformation and learn to fact-check themselves. This is part of our initiative to empower individuals as well.
Our first port of call is to examine the content. With a keen eye, irregularities can be noticed. On many occasions, we have been able to easily identify misleading pieces of information which allow us to quickly debunk them. Details are key to our work, for recognizing and then understanding the context in which the piece would have to be fact-checked. We are listing below some common irregularities that can be found, which can help you, as readers, conduct your own fact-checking:
Language: Audio in videos especially can help identify locations/regions to an extent
Background images, posters, addresses: Common in both videos and images. Can help identify various aspects of a claim
Source of content: What type of account is posting? Are they regularly posting any content? Is this content along any specific party lines? Check their earlier posts to gain such information. Check profile details too. Are they regularly reposting content others have posted? Or sharing similar posts from the same accounts? Such information can reveal a lot.
We use various tools as well, which we have listed below. These tools are regularly used and can be very helpful in accurately determining information:
Google Reverse Image Search
Yandex Reverse Image Search
For video content:
InVid Video Tool
YouTube Data Viewer
These are not mentioned in any specific order and can be used at depending on the requirement. This is not an exhaustive list, there are plenty of other great places you can go to fact-check.
If you feel that there is something we are missing out on, or can do better at, please feel free to let us know. You can also let us know if there are some tools that we are missing out on. We can be reached through our dedicated number or our email, both of which can be found on our Contact Us page .