Data and Technology for Fact-checking (2018-2019)


Today, our society is struggling with an unprecedented amount of falsehoods, hyperboles and half-truths that do harm to democracy, health, economy and national security. Fact-checking is a vital tool for defending against this onslaught.

Despite the rise of fact-checking efforts globally, fact-checkers find themselves increasingly overwhelmed and find it difficult to reach some segments of the public with their messages.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project seeks to leverage the power of data and computing to help make fact-checking and dissemination of fact-checks to the public more effective, scalable and sustainable. Building on the work of a Data+ team, the project team will build databases, systems and apps to achieve the following goals:

  • Make fact-checkers more effective. By monitoring media and data sources and aggregating public interest, the team aims to identify important, check-worthy claims automatically and in real-time. This feed will decrease fact-checkers’ response time and guard against any potential bias (or perception thereof) in selecting what to fact-check.
  • Help media consumers identify misinformation and disinformation faster, and make them feel like stakeholders in fact-checking. The team will make it easier for people to search for claims and get alerted automatically as soon as they are exposed to misinformation. Usage data and feedback will in turn help identify check-worthy claims and diversify the coverage of fact-checking.
  • Gain experience and learn lessons on building a sustainable, collaborative and inclusive ecosystem for fact-checking in the long run. Team members will design an open data and system infrastructure and smart algorithms, as well as best practices that will facilitate sharing and reuse of fact-checking efforts in the future.

Anticipated Outcomes

System that provides fact-checkers with live feeds of check-worthy claims automatically mined from various sources as well as public interest; apps and/or websites with features that help fact-checks reach customers; open, collaborative data and infrastructure for technologists and journalists to collaborate on fact-checking


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019  

  • Fall 2018: Build on development work of Data+ team; release live feeds of check-worthy claims, app/website with enhanced search quality and pop-up fact-checking
  • Spring 2019: Conduct re-evaluation and further enhancements; improve algorithms and systems as needed, develop additional features, such as aggregating user search requests to identify new check-worthy claims, and a subscription service to notify users as soon as a previously searched claim is checked; prepare for official release and final report

Team Outcomes to Date

Developing Automated Tools for Political Fact-checking (poster by Matthew O’Boyle, Sherry Feng, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019; runner up, Bass Connections Poster Competition, Judges’ Selection)

Data and Technology for Fact-checking (poster by Archana Ahlawat, David Cheng, Fangge Deng, Lucas Fagan, Sherry Feng, Yuanhao Guan, Ethan Holland, Sherry Hu, Drew Learner, Matthew O'Boyle, Ali Soyupak, Caroline Wang, Jason Wang, Connie Wu, Harry Xie, Arthur Zhao, Liuyi Zhu, Towqir Aziz, Xinghao Cheng, Mayuresh Kunjir, Junbo Li, Yuhao Wen, Bill Adair, Pankaj K. Agarwal, Jun Yang, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Challenges in Automated Pop-up Fact Checking (poster by Fangge Deng, Yuanhao Guan, Ali Soyupak, Jason Wang, Connie Wu, Arthur Zhao, Xinghao Cheng, Mayuresh Kunjir, Junbo Li, Bill Adair, Pankaj K. Agarwal, Jun Yang, presented at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)


Automated Fact-checking App

This Team in the News

Number of Fact-checking Outlets Surges to 188 in More Than 60 Countries

Fact-checking the President in Real Time

Archana Ahlawat Emphasizes Improving Experiences of Underrepresented Groups in Young Trustee Campaign

Live Fact-checking of the State of the Union Address with Our FactStream App

Free App Provides Live Fact-Checking During Tonight's State of the Union Address

Real Facts in Real-time: Duke Team Aims to Develop First Live Fact-checking Tech by 2020 Election

US Team Working on Real-time Fact-checking App

Technology Near for Real-time TV Political Fact Checks

Real-Time Fact-Checking: There’s (Almost) An App For That

Duke Students Tackle Big Challenges in Automated Fact-checking

The Red Couch Experiments: Early Lessons in Pop-up Fact-checking

Bass Connections Team Pursues First-ever Automated Fact-checking App

See related team, Data and Technology for Fact-checking (2019-2020), and a related Data+ summer project, Data and Technology for Fact-checking (2018).

Students checking facts

Team Leaders

  • William Adair, Sanford School of Public Policy-DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy
  • Pankaj Agarwal, Arts & Sciences-Computer Science
  • Jun Yang, Arts & Sciences-Computer Science

/graduate Team Members

  • Towqir Aziz, Bioethics and Sci Policy - AM
  • Mayuresh Kunjir, Computer Science-PHD
  • Yuhao Wen, Computer Science-MS

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Archana Ahlawat, Computer Science (BS), Political Science (AB2)
  • Sherry Feng, Computer Science (AB)
  • Drew Learner, Interdept PP/VMS (AB)
  • Matthew O'Boyle, Computer Science (BS)
  • Jason Wang, Computer Science (BS)
  • Connie Wu, Computer Science (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)
  • Fengyu Xie, Computer Science (BS), Statistical Science (BS2)
  • Liuyi Zhu, Computer Science (BS), Mathematics (BS2)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • James T. Hamilton, Stanford University
  • Chengkai Li, University of Texas, Arlington
  • Cong Yu, Google Research