Source: Alexios Mantzarlis, International Fact-Checking Network
Fact-checking and verification are terms used interchangeably when it comes to fighting false information, because very often the tools used are the same. The intention of both these processes is to ensure that any information being consumed is accurate, but the main differentiator is the time at which they occur.
Fact-checking is the practice of determining the authenticity of information some time after it has been published or stated. It relies on the input of experts and external sources, and results in the application of a label or ‘rating’ on the piece of information based on the evidence presented. Examples of ratings include True, Mostly/Partly True, False, Partly/Mostly False, and False. Some fact-checkers also include Inconclusive as a rating, indicating that there is not enough available evidence for a definitive conclusion.
Verification happens more quickly, and is the practice of determining the authenticity of information in real time as it unfolds. Verification seeks primary evidence, such as photos and videos in the event of an unfolding news story, and has a binary rating system – in this case stating whether the claim is true or false. It is an integral part of story production, and can lead to a story being held or not published at all if the facts don’t add up.
Many organizations practice both verification and fact-checking depending on the situation at hand. Each of these processes relies on a specific set of tools, which you will encounter later.