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TruthOrFiction.com

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
TruthOrFiction.com Website Poster Image
Clarifying sections, ratings would help convey crucial info.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about real and fake news, including how false reports originate and spread. Rumors from sites and social media are debunked or confirmed. The content encourages kids to investigate, think critically, and use logic. Some items deal with politics, and background information is given on topics. Tips to prevent journalists from spreading disinformation are also offered. The fact checking can be very detailed, and may include news coverage generalizations the site has observed, which aren't necessarily as reputable as other sources. Still, numerous items contain worthwhile information about identifying illegitimate news.

Positive Messages

Kids are encouraged to respect and seek the truth.

Violence

Analyses mention things like suicide and crowd violence, and occasionally an item depicts an image some readers may find disturbing -- one includes photos of a deceased person strapped to a gurney, for example. But generally, the content's nothing more explicit than kids would see on the news.

 

Sex

Some items touch on infidelity, sex trafficking, and other topics, but don't tend to go into detail about anything too racy.

Language

Some, but not all items contain swears. "F--k" and "s--t" are frequently included in articles.

Consumerism

Kids will see ads, but the site says it has no direct contact with advertisers and won't accept political advertising or funding.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Numerous items involve drug smuggling, alcohol, and related topics, but they don't glorify substance use or abuse.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that TruthOrFiction.com is a news site dedicated to telling the difference between real and fake news on websites. Some of the items on TruthOrFiction.com contain swearing, including "f--k" and "s--t," and the content can deal with adult topics like violent acts, sex trafficking, and the illegal drug trade, but the site takes a fact-based, non-salacious approach to the subjects. Kids will see some banner ads as they click through the site, but TruthOrFiction.com says it works to remain editorially independent, and both its advertising and overall coverage are non-partisan.

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What's it about?

TRUTHORFICTION.COM, launched in 1999 by a broadcast journalist, fact checks widely-circulated social media and other items. Their claims -- ranging from Costco offering the cheapest prescriptions to Hillary Clinton selling weapons -- are declared true, not true, unknown, mixed (if part of the statement is true), or research can't prove it’s not. The site uses, and links to, established news organizations, academic papers, and other sources. Staff members who've worked for well- and lesser-known media outlets, may also verify information with primary sources.

Is it any good?

This Snopes-like site analyzes news items to determine if they're accurate or not -- or somewhere in-between, but could use a bit more clarification itself to help its readers. Typically, TruthOrFiction.com tries to demystify outrageous claims and propaganda-based news items that have been circulated on social media, as an email forward, on questionable websites, or through other venues. Although the length and depth of the analyses can vary, generally, they offer at least some valid insight into why a statement is correct or not.

The site navigation seems to be a bit redundant -- political items and fake news items are listed in a drop-down menu under the Fact Checks heading on each page, for instance, and also as separate headings at the top of the page. Given the site's logo proclaims it has been seeking truth and exposing fiction since 1999, you'd expect more content to be in some sections. But numerous items appear repeatedly in more than one, and some sections don't contain many posts, such as the Identifying Fake News section, which lists just three items. There are actually more than 400 pages of posts to read, but the way the sections are listed can initially make it look like less. Items addressing entertainment topics and how journalists can prevent fake news seem out of place on the site as a result. In addition, the ratings in posts don't link to a description of what each one means. If kids see an item is marked with a mixed rating, they'll have to go to the site's About section and click through to a separate ratings page for any information, and the descriptions on that page seem to be outdated. They list terms like Reported to be Truth! and Unproven!, instead of the true, mixed, and other ratings used in items on the site -- which can potentially cause even more confusion. But if you can look past the site confusion and odd navigation issues, you'll find a site trying to provide crucial info to users eager to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to spot fake news online -- and in other formats. What words or other elements may indicate a claim isn't accurate?

  • How can kids tell if an online or print publication is reputable? Can you explain why established news sources are generally more dependable informational sources?

  • Can your child identify a fact or statement from a news outlet that's, without a doubt, true? Is it the fault of the news outlet if it doesn't make these statements absolutely clear?

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Website details

  • Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension, text analysis, using supporting evidence
    Social Studies: cultural understanding, events, global awareness, government, history, power structures, the economy
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, deduction, investigation, logic, part-whole relationships, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: personal growth
  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: August 29, 2019

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