It Must Be True if it Was On the Internet

New technology is giving this recently iconic saying a little support. 

We live in a world of information. It’s great because we can almost always find answers to any questions we need. Despite how much we rely on the internet, people always warn us about accuracy. “It must be true if it was on the Internet” people sarcastically say to each other when an inaccurate piece of information is found. 

With this problem in mind, innovators have begun working on fact checkers. Tech & Check recently had a conference discussing the possibility and attributed advantages to automated programs. This idea is similar to Microsoft Word knowing when you spell a word incorrectly. It immediately recognizes misspellings and notifies you. Only in this case, it looks across the web for other information proving the phrase correct or incorrect. If you think about how often Microsoft Word has helped you, this idea seems pretty great for journalists, bloggers, or even those in the public eye speaking on issues like politicians.

However, just like how Word marks some words correct that you meant to be a completely different word, or doesn’t recognize your last name, fact trackers will probably have a few glitches. I still have a lot of questions for the inventors.

How does the program know if the information available on the Internet now is correct?

What if the information is about breaking news and there is nothing to fact check against?

Will this violate the privacy of some people if it uses social media as a source?

Computer scientists say the technology and interest is here, but they are missing the resources. Is this something media companies may start investing in?

There are already a few variations of this:

RumorLens: This already does use Twitter to check whether someone actually said something or if they are trying to refute it.

FactMinder: This one is only a web browser extension, but it gives users a little more information on the people and topics they search.

I think this could be a really awesome idea depending on how it is developed and used. We need something to clear up the misunderstandings and sometimes lies on the Internet, and this might be the solution.


2 thoughts on “It Must Be True if it Was On the Internet

  1. In reference to your headline, I feel that the legitimacy of online information has come a long way. Most professors frown upon peer-sharing information sources such as Wikipedia, however, I feel that these sources will become more accepted over the next few years. The types of fact checking software that you wrote about in your post will help legitimize such sources.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you make very good points about last names not registering as words, privacy violation, and breaking news fact checking. I think that even with all the great technology out there, the best way to fact check is still checking multiple online sources before confirming that the information is true.


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