July 20, 2016

Most fact-checking websites have forms that allow readers to submit claims they would like to get checked (see, for example, here and here).

Istinomer, a Serbian fact-checking website, has gone one step further by launching a Google Chrome extension that allows users to highlight fishy claims they see anywhere online and submit them without leaving the pages they’re on.

This on-the-spot submission process is especially easy for readers of the Serbian outlet Danas, who can ask for a claim to be examined without even installing the extension. Danas is partnering with Istinomer to make submitting a claim to fact-check on the site as easy as sharing it on social media (the video below is in Serbian but understandable with no knowledge of the language).

Placing the fact-checking button near the social buttons seems like a sound choice to attract readers’ attention.

In the first 20 or so days since the button was adopted by Danas, Istinomer has received about 40 statements, says Dušan Jordović, project manager at the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability, which hosts Istinomer.

About a third of the statements submitted were factual claims that can indeed be verified and are currently being monitored or analyzed by the team; others were either already fact-checked or not suitable for fact-checking.

“Generally, for us it is not a question of numbers,” Jordović said, even if “we are convinced that we will receive more and more statements.” He thinks the crucial part of the extension and the button is increasing communication with the community.

A more gradual buildup in submissions is also more manageable: “We can’t respond right now to tens or hundreds of people on daily level. We need seriously to consider this in order to avoid becoming just one more unresponsive media.”

The Chrome extension has also led to an unexpected change in the Serbian fact-checkers’ workflow. Istinomer already had several contributors collecting suitable claims for fact-checking from around the country; now they submit them through the extension rather than via email.

Jordović says Istinomer is open to other fact-checkers implementing a similar extension in other parts of the world (the extension is not open source, but the code is available here).

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Alexios Mantzarlis joined Poynter to lead the International Fact-Checking Network in September of 2015. In this capacity he writes about and advocates for fact-checking. He…
Alexios Mantzarlis

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