OGDEN, Utah (News4Utah) – Students from Weber State University gathered to watch, and live fact-check the candidates in the 1st Congressional District Debate Wednesday night. Experts say fact checking is more important than ever with social media making it easier to spread misinformation.
Japheth Pleasant who was one of the students doing the fact checking said it was a challenge to get the information out quickly while also making sure it was accurate.
“Going through multiple sources, checking your sources, and making sure what you have is actually the facts,” said Pleasant.
One of the main challenges of fact checking for students like Jake McMahon is that statements aren’t often a lie or the truth. but instead fall into a gray area.
“I would say just taking what they say and trying to get the truth out of it,” said McMahon, “How that’s going to be the best information for the public.”
Issues like climate change, the deficit, and public lands were some of the most heated topics which kept fact checkers busy.
In an era of politics in which even politicians who are shown to be wrong won’t back down, or admit fault does fact checking even matter? According to WSU Political Science Professor Leah Murray it does.
“The truth matters in that an informed, and educated citizenry needs to have some truth to measure what is happening,” said Murray.
Fact checking has become harder has more politicians are reaching out directly to people though social media.
“Truth goes directly from a politician to a voter rather than through a journalistic filter,” said Murray.
In the past journalist could challenge, or give context to what was being said by elected leaders.
Murray also notes while the base of a particular political party has often let lies or half truths slide. To many voters the truth still matters.
“It’s the case that most Americans as the lies get found out and more context is provided, they tend to move towards the more reasonable interpretation,” said Murray.