The Washington Post introduces model for “Truth Teller” real-time fact checker

Today The Washington Post debuts its prototype of Truth Teller, a news application that will fact check speeches in near real time. The Post created this feature with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

“When our politics editor Steven Ginsberg heard a politician give a stump speech filled with inaccurate statements, he wondered if there could ever be a way to instantly verify what a politician says. Live fact-checking can provide incredible insight to journalists and audiences alike, and we are excited to start the process of creating something as unique and valuable as Truth Teller,” said Cory Haik, Executive Producer of Digital News at The Washington Post. 

The prototype, available at truthteller.washingtonpost.com, is a step toward creating a Post app that can be used during live speeches and discussions. It currently focuses on the looming debate over tax reform. Users can play videos from President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner and other politicians and instantly see which statements are true, false or misleading. To create Truth Teller, The Post will build upon this prototype to incorporate more issues. 

Ginsberg said, “This first iteration of Truth Teller will shed light on an important, timely discussion that is often filled with political rhetoric. When Truth Teller evolves to the product we’ve envisioned, it will be a tool that addresses broad issues instantly, complementing the in-depth nature of The Post’s Fact Checker blog.”  

To create the prototype, The Post is using several technologies by combining video and audio extraction with a speech-to-text technology to search databases of facts and fact checks.   

Support from Knight, the nation’s leading funder of journalism and media innovation, is through the foundation’s Prototype Fund, which offers up to $50,000 to build and test new ideas in news and information. 

“The cost and time requirements of quickly testing digital projects continues to fall, and it’s almost more expensive to not experiment, test and improve a prototype,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.  “We plan to find more projects like Truth Teller this year as we seek to accelerate the field of media innovation.” 

Explore Truth Teller from The Washington Post.