Monday, September 8, 2008

Fact Checkers

I received yet another email message from the Department of the Treasury this morning stating I have a $189.60 tax refund coming (I only need to click on a link that goes to an AOL site!). That coupled with similar messages received a month ago mean I can fill up my car this week. But I won’t really count on it.

There are two sites that have been very handy lately. Both enable me to check the facts. The first is where I often check various email “facts” such as:
  • Presidential candidate Barack Obama is a “radical Muslim” (false),
  • Presidential candidate John McCain declared during a 60 Minutes interview that he was a “war criminal” who “bombed innocent women and children” (false),
  • The USS New York was made using steel from the World Trade Center (true),
  • You can cook an egg or popcorn if placed between two activated cell phones (false), and
  • That an email greeting card from a family member may include a malicious virus (true, but generally only unpatched Windows-based systems are vulnerable and to infect your system you must click a link that goes to server with malware). Note, always hover over any link in any message and if the web address displayed on your status bar is inconsistent with a real online greeting card site (such as or or or the site you expect the link to go to, don’t go there.

The other site I use to check facts is The site is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and identifies itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” The Annenberg Political Fact Check monitors “the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.” Their goal “is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”

So check your facts…before you pass them on.

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