Introducing Truth Teller: Political fact-checking

The Washington Post on Tuesday unveiled a news application that aims to fact check political speeches in near real time. Truth Teller is a prototype, built by the Post with funding from the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund.

Cory Haik, the Post’s Executive Producer for Digital News, explains how the project came to fruition in a blog post on the Knight Foundation’s Web site:

In August 2011, Michele Bachmann held a small rally in the parking lot of a sports bar in Indianola, Iowa with a few dozen people. Over the course of the event, Bachmann, like many politicians, repeatedly misled her audience. The Post’s National Political Editor, Steven Ginsberg, was at the event and detected a problem: no one attending seemed to realize they were being misled. From that moment, the Post set out to try to fix that problem and to give the public the information it needs at the moment it needs it.

You can check out the prototype, which focuses on the timely issue of tax reform, here. And Tech Crunch has an inside look at the project. Being a prototype, Truth Teller is a work in progress. But it’s an important one, writes Haik:

The Post is dedicated to this project because we believe strongly that informing and educating the public is one of the most critical missions we can perform, particularly when it comes to our elected officials. Amid the cacophony of an instant-news culture, identifying the truth is both harder and more important than ever. Facts themselves are increasingly under attack and falsehoods can easily and instantly find their way to a mass audience. In fact, many are designed to.

Read more:

Knight Foundation: Debuting Truth Teller from the Washington Post; Real-time lie detection service at your service (not quite yet)

TechCrunch: Realtime Political Fact-Checking Becomes a Reality with WaPo’s ‘Truth Teller’

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.
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Greg Barber | January 22, 2013