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Definition

fact checking

Fact checking is the process of attempting to verify or disprove assertions made in speech, print media or online content. The practice is essential for integrity in any area where claims are made, including government, journalism and business.

Inaccurate statements can take a number of different forms. A vendor may, for example, make false claims about their own product or attempt to undermine confidence in a competing technology by spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about it. The misinformation could be an exaggeration of the benefits offered by the vendor's own product or unfounded speculation about risks associated with the competitor's product. Fact checking, in this context, involves seeking support or guarantees to back up any claims before making a decision.

In the context of human resources management (HRM), scrupulously fact checking claims on applicants' resumes can help to ensure that only qualified individuals are hired. That, in turn, can help prevent future problems and protect the business' profitability.

Misinformation may be intentional or simply a matter of lax fact checking or other human errors. Anyone who presents material as factual should ensure that it does not contain any false statements. Failing to do so can result in damage to a business' reputation and in more extreme cases can result in compliance issues and/or legal action. To ensure that documents and other content are free of misinformation, it's important to avoid making any unsupported claims in the first place and to provide support for any that are made. Before disseminating any content, a writer should read it over carefully, attempting to identify any statements that could be open to question and deal with them appropriately. It's advisable to have any sensitive or important content reviewed by a qualified second person. (See: four eyes principle)

Disinformation is a more aggressive version of misinformation, which is intended to deceive. Fake news sites, for example, are created as distribution channels for disinformation that serves the creator's agenda. Because disinformation is intentional, the onus is on the receiver to evaluate the material presented.

 

 

This was last updated in March 2017

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