Timeline of fact-checking

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This timeline covers independent fact-checking operations, as well as key events that shaped the perception and application of fact-checking.

Full timeline

Year Month and date (if available) Event type Details Geographical location
1923 Internal fact-checking operations TIME Magazine, around the time of its first issue, hires Nancy Ford for a role that would include verifying basic dates, names and facts in completed TIME articles. This would mark the beginning of the magazine's fact-checking operation, which would hire a handful of people, all women.[1] United States (but some content covers global topics)
1927 Internal fact-checking operations The New Yorker begins rigorous fact-checking, two years after the magazine's launch in 1925.[1] United States (but some content covers global topics)
1933 Internal fact-checking operations Newsweek begins rigorous fact-checking, following the precedent of TIME and the New Yorker.[1] United States (but some content covers global topics)
1995 Fact-checking website launch Snopes.com is founded by couple David and Barbara Mikkelson, initially as a website to debunk urban legends, though it subsequently expands to covering the factual accuracy of popular stories or claims.[2] The website is an outgrowth of David Mikkelson's work with username 'snopes' in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban.[3] Global (though more focused on the United States)
2003 December Fact-checking website launch factcheck.org is launched as a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center by Brooks Jackson.[4] The first fact-check appears to have been published on December 4, 2003.[5] United States
2007 August Fact-checking website launch PolitiFact.com launches as a project operated by Tampa Bay Times, in which reporters and editors from the Times and affiliated media fact check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups. The website publishes original statements as well as evaluations along a Truth-o-Meter.[6] United States
2007 September 19 Fact-checking website launch The Washington Post launches The Fact Checker, a blog by veteran journalist Glenn Kessler that rates statements by politicians according to their accuracy, with the rating ranging from one to four Pinocchios (more Pinocchios means a bigger lie).[7] The initial launch is for the purpose of the 2008 Presidential Election in the United States United States
2010 Fact-checking website launch Full Fact, a website devoted to fact-checking (and the eponymous nonprofit) launches.[8] United Kingdom
2010 January Fact-checking website expansion PolitiFact expands to its second newspaper, the Cox Enterprises–owned Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas. The subproject, PolitiFact Texas, focuses on fact-checking Texas local news. United States (Texas)
2010 March Fact-checking website expansion PolitiFact expands to its third newspaper, The Miami Herald in Florida. The subject, PolitiFact Florida, focuses on Florida local news. United States (Florida)
2011 January 9 Fact-checking website revival The Washington Post revives and makes permanent Glenn Kessler's blog, The Fact Checker, that was originally piloted during the 2008 Presidential elections United States
2014 January Fact-checking website launch Correctiv (stylized CORRECT!V), a fact-checking website in Germany, launches.[9][10] Germany
2015 September 21 Fact-checking network The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) is launched under the auspices of the Poynter Institute, in recognition of and in order to facilitate better standards and cooperation between numerous fact-checking initiatives. Alexios Mantzarlis is the first director and editor of IFCN.[11][12][13] Global
2016 September 17 Fact-checking automation Google gives a 50,000 euro grant to Full Fact as part of its Digital News Initiative (DNI) to help Full Fact automate some of its fact-checking tools. The two tools, slated for completion by the end of 2017, are Trends and Robocheck. Trends will detect how widely a claim has circulated online, while Robocheck will attempt to give real-time information on conclusions about the claims.[14] United Kingdom
2016 December 15 Social media partnership Facebook announces a set of news feed updates to combat the problem of fake news and hoaxes. These include more streamlining for users reporting fake news, a partnership with signatory organizations to Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles to examine items reported as fake, learning from lower share rates for people who view the article that the item might be fake, and warnings to users when they share news that is disputed or possibly fake.[15][16][17][18] Global
2017 January Alleged fake news On January 3, Breitbart News publishes a story with the title "1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve".[19] The accuracy of the story is contested by a number of outlets including the Washington Post.[20] It leads to a renewed interest among German politicians in tackling the "fake news" problem, along with suspicions of interference from Russia.[21][22][23] Breitbart News continues to defend its coverage and attacks the use of the "fake news" label for its reporting.[24][25] Germany
2017 January 30 Government investigation The Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the United Kingdom Parliament launches an investigation into "fake news".[26][27] The Committee would conclude its work by May 3, 2017, at which point it would cease to exist due to the dissolution of Parliament.[28] United Kingdom

Numerical and visual data

Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of May 29, 2021.

Year fact checking news fact checking fact checking social media automated fact checking computational fact checking fact checking machine learning fact checking knowledge graph
1980 11,800 1,780 1,250 1,050 1,310 936 3,510
1985 13,900 2,180 1,450 1,420 1,810 1,310 4,000
1990 22,900 3,400 2,170 2,850 3,840 2,340 6,330
1995 36,500 5,100 3,790 4,300 6,340 3,540 9,620
2000 60,500 9,840 7,390 6,840 8,890 6,900 14,100
2002 71,600 11,700 9,490 8,230 10,400 8,200 16,800
2004 80,900 14,300 12,600 11,100 13,600 10,200 19,500
2006 91,200 18,100 14,700 13,600 15,600 11,800 22,300
2008 99,700 23,100 18,900 16,000 20,000 14,000 24,900
2010 106,000 29,400 25,600 18,000 23,300 17,600 27,400
2012 115,000 32,700 32,400 20,700 28,400 22,300 29,000
2014 102,000 33,500 34,100 21,900 30,400 23,700 33,400
2016 82,800 30,900 32,800 23,300 31,600 25,600 34,200
2017 82,900 33,300 35,500 23,800 31,900 25,800 34,800
2018 75,600 32,400 34,000 25,100 32,400 27,000 35,500
2019 55,100 31,300 32,900 25,400 31,000 27,500 35,800
2020 44,900 28,100 24,700 25,400 28,200 26,500 35,700
Fact checking tb.png

Google Trends

The chart below shows Google Trends data for Fact-checking (Topic), from January 2004 to March 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map.[29]

Fact checking gt.png

Google Ngram Viewer

The chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for fact checking, from 1800 to 2019.[30]

Fact checking ngram.png

Wikipedia Views

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article Fact checking, on desktop, mobile-web, desktop-spider, mobile-web-spider and mobile app, from July 2015 to February 2021.[31]

Fact checking wv.png


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fabry, Merrill (August 24, 2017). "Here's How the First Fact-Checkers Were Able to Do Their Jobs Before the Internet". TIME Magazine. Retrieved April 23, 2018. 
  2. Seipp, Cathy (July 21, 2004). "Where Urban Legends Fall". National Review. Archived from the original on July 23, 2004. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  3. Porter, David (2013). "Usenet Communities and the Cultural Politics of Information". Internet Culture. Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-135-20904-9. Retrieved September 13, 2016. The two most notorious trollers in AFU, Ted Frank and snopes, are also two of the most consistent posters of serious research. 
  4. "About Us". FactCheck.org. Retrieved April 23, 2018. 
  5. Jackson, Brooks (December 4, 2003). "Gephardt TV Ad Misleads on Job Loss. A Gephardt ad in Iowa says 'George Bush has lost more jobs since any President since Herbert Hoover.' That's not exactly true.". FactCheck.org. Retrieved April 23, 2018. 
  6. "Bill Adair, PolitiFact Editor, Named Knight Professor at Duke". Duke University. April 5, 2013. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  7. "Guide to Washington Post Fact Checker Rating Scale". Voices.washingtonpost.com. December 29, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  8. "About Full Fact". Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  9. "Annual reports". Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  10. "Correctiv on Twitter". Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  11. "Poynter Names Fact-Checking Expert Alexios Mantzarlis Director and Editor of the New International Fact-Checking Network, Based at its Florida Headquarters". Poynter Institute. September 21, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  12. "About the International Fact-Checking Network". Poynter Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  13. Kessler, Glenn (September 15, 2016). "Fact-checking organizations around the globe embrace code of principles". Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  14. Burgess, Matt. "Google is helping Full Fact create an automated, real-time fact-checker. The UK fact-checkers are hoping to publish two automatic tools by the end of 2017". 
  15. Mosseri, Adam (December 15, 2016). "News Feed FYI: Addressing Hoaxes and Fake News". Facebook. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  16. Tsukayama, Hayley (December 15, 2016). "Facebook will start telling you when a story may be fake". Washington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  17. Chappell, Bill (December 15, 2016). "Facebook Details Its New Plan To Combat Fake News Stories". NPR. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  18. Isaac, Mike (December 15, 2016). "Facebook Mounts Effort to Limit Tide of Fake News". New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2016. 
  19. Hale, Virginia (January 3, 2017). "Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany's Oldest Church Alight on New Year's Eve". Breitbart News. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  20. Faiola, Anthony; Kirchner, Stephanie (January 6, 2017). "'Allahu akbar'-chanting mob sets alight Germany's oldest church? Shocking story, if it were true.". Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  21. Holt, Jared (January 9, 2017). "Germany Investigating "Unprecedented Proliferation" Of Fake News In Wake Of Fabricated Breitbart Story". Media Matters for America. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  22. Toor, Amar (January 10, 2017). "Germany investigates fake news after bogus Breitbart story. Officials suspect Russian meddling ahead of parliamentary elections". The Verge. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  23. "Germany investigating unprecedented spread of fake news online. Government focus on false reporting comes amid claims that Russia is trying to influence German election later this year". Reuters. January 9, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  24. Kassam, Raheem (January 8, 2017). "Fake 'Fake News': Media Sow Division with Dishonest Attack on Breitbart's 'Allahu Akbar' Church Fire Story". Breitbart News. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  25. Gertz, Matt (January 9, 2017). "Breitbart Has A Literally Unbelievable Response To Its False German Church Story". Media Matters for America. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  26. "UK launches inquiry into the 'phenomenon of fake news'. MPs will investigate where fake news comes from, how it spreads and what its impact is". Wired. January 30, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  27. "'Fake news' inquiry launched". United Kingdom Parliament. January 30, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  28. "'Fake news' inquiry". United Kingdom Parliament. Retrieved May 22, 2017. 
  29. "Fact-checking". Google Trends. Retrieved 4 April 2021. 
  30. "fact checking". books.google.com. Retrieved 4 April 2021. 
  31. "Fact checking". wikipediaviews.org. Retrieved 4 April 2021.