FAQ: Credibility Grade

Why should I trust The Factual Credibility grade for articles?

The Factual automatically calculates the probability that an individual article is credible. This is based on four factors:

  • The diversity and quality of its sources
  • The factual tone of the article's writing style
  • The expertise of the journalist on the topic based on their article history
  • The site reputation based on historical scores of every article on the site

Because the calculation is automated and devoid of human involvement, criteria are consistently applied across articles and sources. More on the rating algorithm.

Also, because grades are specific to an article and not a publication, scores vary within a publication. For example, here is a medium credibility article and here is a high credibility article, both at the New York Times.

What does The Factual credibility grade mean?

The Factual automatically calculates the probability that an individual article is credible.

  • A grade above 74% indicates a well-written article that is highly likely to be credible. Such articles provide extensive sources, maintain a relatively neutral tone, and are authored by a reporter who has expertise in this topic. That said, there may still be bias.
  • A grade below 50% means the article is likely to be less credible and possibly poorly-researched. These articles may still be worth reading but should be cross-checked with higher scoring articles.
  • The average grade for articles is 56%, with 95% of articles scoring between 28% and 85%.

How reliable is The Factual's credibility grade?

The Factual rates 10,000+ articles a day and gets better each day as it evaluates more articles, sources, and authors. Some known issues:

  • We do not always factor in multimedia links, such as tweets, videos, and photos, into a article's analysis.
  • Authors who write for different sites are treated as different authors.
  • We are unable to identify authors in some news sites.
  • Non-English sites are not yet rated by The Factual.
  • Sites behind a subscription wall like The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg may not be accessible to rate.

Why is my favorite site or journalist rated poorly?

Many popular journalists write articles with very few links or are highly opinionated. This may be because of their writing style or policies of their publisher/editor. Such articles will rank poorly with The Factual. While this may seem unfair, it is incumbent on journalists (and publishers) to link to good sources and moderate their opinions, particularly in today's climate of distrust in the media.

As the American Press Institute says journalism is a "discipline of verification." Online, it's easy to quote and link to sources so journalists who do so often will rightfully score more highly. The Factual assesses this approach--and more--so that you, the reader, can feel confident you're reading highly credible news.

A forthcoming update will credit journalists who are cited most, which typically correlates with those who break stories.

Where does your bias data come from?

The political bias data come from a combination of sources:

The above data sources are being replaced by a machine learning algorithm that rates bias based on text patterns. That said, there is no uniformly accepted way to judge bias of a news site, therefore this information is directionally useful rather than exact.

FAQ: The Factual Chrome extension

How does The Factual inject grades into Facebook and Twitter?

The extension looks to see if a post in your Facebook or Twitter feed is a news article from one of 1000 news sites. If so it fetches the content and rates it like any other article. Click on the grade to see grade details and suggested related articles across the political spectrum.

One limitation of the Twitter injection is not being able to rate sites like The Associated Press or Smithsonian Magazine because their URLs in Twitter are mangled.

What data do you store?

The Factual does not have advertising, so we collect minimal information. Whatever data we do collect is not shared with any third parties.

FAQ: The Factual Inc.

How does The Factual make money?

We offer an affordable subscription that gives you full access to our daily newsletter, website, and app.

How can I trust you?

We do not produce any news ourselves and are not affiliated with any political group or cause.

The majority of the company is owned by the founders, and the founders are the only board members.

The company has a geographically diverse team to reduce our own inherent biases.

We are transparent about our algorithm's scoring model and make changes when we receive valid criticism.