Why should I trust The Factual grade for articles?
The Factual automatically calculates the credibility of an article 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 historical focus
- The site reputation based on historical scores of every article on the site
Because the calculation is automated, without human involvement, criteria are consistently applied across articles and sources.
Also, since scores are specific to an article and not a publication, scores vary within a publication. For example within the New York Times: Medium vs High scores.
What do the scores mean?
A score above 75 indicates a well-written article that is generally reliable. 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 scores below 50 means the article is less reliable and probably poorly-written. These articles may still be worth reading but should be cross-checked with higher scoring articles.
The average score for articles is 56 with 95% of articles scoring between 28 and 85.
How reliable are the scores on articles?
The Factual rates 10,000+ articles a day and gets better each day as it evaluates more sources and authors. Some known issues:
- We do not always factor in multimedia links like tweets, videos, and photos, into the sources 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.
How do you select topics?
All topic selections on The Factual are made by a computer, with no humans involved.
Topics are generated once there are more than 3 stories on the topic in the prior 48 hours.
How come my favourite site or journalist isn't rated highly?
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's 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 it often will rightfully score better. The Factual assess this approach and more so you, the reader, can feel confident you're reading highly credible news.
For a fun take on journalist ratings see this post on how an intern is one of the highest tech rated reporters.
A forthcoming update will reward 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. Hence this information is directionally useful rather than exact.
How does rating work on Facebook and Twitter posts?
The extension looks to see if a post in your Facebook or Twitter feed is from a designated news site and, if so, evaluates article credibility. The Factual icon appears on any posts with an article and its colour indicates credibility. A number next to the icon indicates highly-credibile related stories.
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.
How does The Factual make money?
We plan to roll out an optional subscription that gives you access to paywalled content and premium features at an affordable price. This subscription will be optional and you can always use The Factual as a free product.
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.
We are transparent about our algorithm's scoring model and make changes when we receive valid criticism.