Detailed Methodology

1. How do we select what news stories to verify?

The Real or Not team collects and documents information from the social media channels and websites of the parliament, government agencies and officials, politicians, political parties, military, ethinc armed groups, and also monitors mainstream media and viral content on social media in order to identify misinformation to debunk. We also document user generated content and dubious information which could hamper societal peace and potentially lead to conflict. In addition, we receive claim requests for fact-checks from the public via the Real or Not Facebook Messenger Chatbot and website, which helps us identify the most viral and impactful content.

We select news stories to debunk based solely on (1) the virality or the potential virality of the content, (2) the number of claims submitted by the public about the news item, (3) their specific importance and relevance to the Myanmar context (e.g. well-know source, high potential to disrupt society). The Real or Not Fact-checking Team Leader and Program Manager makes the final decision on which news stories are debunked.

2. What sources do we use to verify information?

Real or Not is committed to identifying the sources of all significant evidence used in our fact checks and to providing links to all relevant, publicly available online content. The most commonly used sources of the Real or Not team are the Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and websites of the parliament, government agencies and officials, politicians, political parties, military, ethinc armed groups. In addition, we refer to statements and any other form of communication made by relevant authorities and official sources. For every news item which appears in the online media, we rely on several mainstream media sources to compare and verify information.

Reverse image search methods such as Google Image Reverse Search, Tin Eye, Yandex, Bing Search are applied to verify photos. Such photos are embedded in our fact-checking stories. We also rely on the verification tool set of Open Source Fact-checking Tools to conduct location, maps and video image search.

If the above methods do not provide clear evidence, our fact checkers make phone calls to relevant people or trusted experts. Such sources are informed that they will be identified and quoted. Anonymity of our sources operating in sensitive areas and with a track record of truthfulness will be ensured to avoid compromising their identity.

3. How do we conduct a fact-check?

Our fact-check process is driven by the evidence provided by the sources and methods above. The published fact check stories aim to answer three basic questions:

  1. Relevance: why does this story need to be verified?
  2. Methodology: how is this story verified?
  3. Real or Not: what are the facts based on the evidence we found?

Final editorial control of all our fact-check stories rests with the Real or Not Fact-checking Team Leader and Program Manager. We are committed to publish our stories in a simple language and accessible format, and to provide access to all online sources for the easy verification of our stories by the public.

4. What happens if we make a mistake?

Even though the Real or Not team uses well-established fact-checking methods, we can make mistakes every now and then. If you think we made an error, send us a correction request via Facebook, phone, email and complaint form from the website.

Our team will respond to each correction request, and determine whether or not the mistake can lead to misinterpretations about our fact-checking stories. If a significant error has been made in an article, photo, caption, headline or other published material, we are committed to make the necessary correction within 24 hours.

All corrections are published on our Corrections Page. We also publish them on our Facebook page to promptly inform the public about what was wrong and what is correct.