Spark

TV networks may soon be able to fact check politicians in real time

Like 'Pop-Up Video' but for political fact checking
New software may soon enable on-the-fly political fact checking (Pixabay)
Listen12:25

Imagine watching the State of the Union address, and being able to see live fact checks pop up onscreen as President Trump speaks. Well, it looks like real-time TV political fact checks will soon be a reality.

Bill Adair is the Knight Professor for Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University, and founder of Politifact. He also leads a team at Duke that's been working on fact-checking technology. 
Bill Adair (LinkedIn)

The past decade has seen huge developments in fact-checking, but during live speeches or debates, you still have to search online to find out whether a claim is true or not. That's why Adair and his team are working on a brand new product that will automatically let you know the facts in real time. Imagine a more serious version of Pop Up video.

"The whole idea is to help people get the facts about political claims the moment they hear them," he told Spark host Nora Young.

Adair hopes to have his new product available by the end of the year. But will TV news networks use it?

"I'm hopeful they will eventually. I think there's a lot of caution on the part of the television networks that they don't want to jump into anything that makes mistakes," he said.

Adair is careful to refer to his product's facts checks as "related fact checks," allowing some leeway for the occasional honest blunder. He acknowledges that in the current era of hyper-partisan politics, people can read all sort of things into factual mistakes. "Even those most innocent of errors can be viewed as biased or having some ulterior motive, "Adair said.

Adair ultimately believes that his new product will serve a vital function. "I think it's important to stop the falsehoods the moment people hear them," he said. "The quicker you can get people accurate information, and tell them something's not true, the better."


 

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