The COVID-19 Fact Checkers Dataset is a comprehensive international repository of over 200 active fact-checking groups and organizations that verify COVID-19 misinformation. The dataset is maintained by Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab as part of an international initiative to study the proliferation of COVID-19 misinformation and to map fact-checking activities around the world in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). It was created to provide the public with a better understanding of the COVID-19 fact-checking ecosystem and is intended for use by policy makers and others to make data-informed decisions in the fight against COVID-19 misinformation.

To be included in the dataset, the organization must be identifiable and active during the initial period (April-August 2020) of data collection. Specific data points collected include the 1) name (formal or informal) of the organization, 2) country in which they operate, 3) URL of the group/organization (if one is available), 4) how they are structured (non-profit, for profit, etc.), 5) the scope of the group’s coverage (local, international, etc.) 6) whether the organization is active or inactive, 7) affiliation, 8) how the organization is funded, 9) languages used, 10) topics covered (COVID-19 only or other types of misinformation), 11) their dissemination channels, 12) how the group verifies claims, 13) how the group rates claims, 14) contact information, (14) whether they were members of the International Fact-Checking Network (see Appendix A for further details).

The dataset was compiled based on information from multiple publicly available sources. The initial list was created by performing various web searches to locate websites of fact-checking groups that met criteria of producing original fact-checks about COVID-19 claims within the last 30 days. The initial list of about 100 fact checkers was then expanded by adding records from another dataset collected by the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) via crowdsourcing in April 2020.

The merged dataset was cross-validated and enriched with additional metadata collected by members of the Social Media Lab. To clean the data, we removed duplicate entries, verified incorrect data, filled in missing values, corrected typographical errors, standardized, and categorized values.
After the initial data collection and cleaning steps conducted between April – August 2020, we applied a three-pronged approach to expand the dataset:
1) We used a custom geo-based visualization to identify countries with no or few records in our dataset. We then searched for names of these countries (and territories) and keywords such as “fact-check” and “COVID-19” (both in English and in the official language of each country) on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
2) We also reviewed news and feature articles about fact-checking groups in various countries from sources like the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), the International Journalists Network (IJnet), the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), and the Poynter Institute.
3) Finally, we compared our initial dataset with the list of fact-checking organizations that appeared in our COVIDGlobal Misinformation Dashboard based on data collected via Google Fact-Check Tools API.

As of December 2020, the dataset consists of 223 “active” fact-checkers. Going forward, it will be updated on a quarterly basis by flagging groups that became inactive and adding new ones as we find them.

You can download the entire COVID-19 Fact-Checkers Dataset and attribute definitions here.

We would like to acknowledge and thank members of Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) for their help to compile the data for this project.

The attributes we collect are as follows:

  • Name
  • Country
  • URL
  • Structure (Non-profit, For Profit, Volunteer…) 
  • Coverage (Local/Regional, National, Intl..)
  • Affiliation (Media Organization, Government, Independent…)
  • Funding (Media Organization, Affiliate advertising, Donations…)
  • Language
  • Secondary Language
  • Topic/Scope (COVID-19, Politics, Public figures…)
  • Dissemination Channels (Website, Social Media, Blogs, Podcasts…)
  • Vetting Methods (Select a claim to fact-check…)
  • Rating System (Numerical, Colour, Text…)
  • Twitter/ Facebook
  • IFCN Signatory?

Note – The attributes and their definition are work-in-progress and will be refined periodically.

Name -This is the word or term used to identify the fact-checking group or organization. May include the formal or informal title used to describe, address or refer to the group. 

Country Includes the official name of the country/territory where the fact-checking organization or group is located. For help, please refer to the WHO’s alphabetical list of member states here:

URL Includes the web address for the fact-checking organization or group. Insert a URL if one is available, if not, enter N/A. Examples:

Structure – Organizational form, composition or construction of the fact-checking group:

    • Non-profit

Does not make a profit from fact-checking activities.

    • For Profit

Makes a profit from fact-checking activities.

    • Academic Institution

Fact-checking organization is part of an educational organization like a university, college, academy or polytechnic.

    • Media Organization

Fact-checking organization exists as a department or group within a larger media organization like a newspaper, television company or other mass media.

    • Volunteer Group/Individual

Fact-checking group is an assemblage of people who freely engage in fact-checking as an activity without pay.

    • Other

Fact-checking group’s structure exists outside of the definitions listed here.

Coverage The geographical coverage area of the fact-checking organization or group. 

The specific country or region that claims come from, that a fact-checking organization chooses to debunk. Could include broad geographical coverage of a single country, or be active at local, provincial or national levels. Choices include:

    • Local/Regional
    • National
    • International

Affiliation If the fact-checking organization or group is connected or associated with:

    • Media Organization 
        • The fact checking group is closely associated with a media organization (does not exclude being owned by).
    • Government/Government department
        • The fact-checking group is associated with a government or department of a government.
    • Department or Division of a Private Company
        • The fact-checking group is part of a private company and is not media.
    • Academic Institution
        • The fact-checking group is associated with an academic institution, like a university, college or polytechnic.
    • Independent 
      • The fact-checking group is independent.

Funding – Includes information on resources that finance the fact-checking organization or group: (May include more than one)

      • Funding from a Media Organization 
        • Fact-checking is primarily funded by aparent media organization.
    • Affiliate Advertising
        • Funding comes from online advertising (display, programmatic, or other).
      • Donations/Crowdfunding
        • Funding comes from individuals or large benefactors.  
      • Trusts/Foundations
        • Funding comes from a trust, or a foundation (public or private). 
    • State or Government Grants
        • Financial support from a state or government authority (generally for beneficial or research purposes).
    • Selling Fact-checks to Other Media Organizations
        • Revenue from fact-check claims sold or licensed to media outlets.
    • Consulting/Teaching/Training/Speaking
        • Includes funding from consulting on fact-checking activities, teaching media literacy, training fact-checkers/students or others, or speaking.
    • Third-party/Tech-industry Funded Fact-checking Initiatives
        • Funding from tech-industry funded fact-checking initiatives such as Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program or Google Digital News Initiative.
    • Other/Miscellaneous
      • If ‘other,’ please tell us how your fact-checking organization is funded.

Language The primary language the fact-checking organization or group publishes or distributes its fact-checks in. 

Secondary Languages – The secondary languages the fact-checking organization or group publishes or distributes its fact-checks in. N/A if no secondary language.

Topic/Scope of Debunking Work – Topic or theme the fact-checking organization focuses on (select all applicable choices):

    • COVID-19/health Related Claims or Information
        • Focusing on debunking COVID-19-related claims including fake tests and cures, virus origin, severity, scams, rumours and others. (For reference
    • Politics
        • Focusing on the accuracy of claims by politicians, political  party leaders and their platforms, in major speeches, debates, and daily life. May also include foreign policy, governance.
    • Public Figures
        • Focusing on verifying the accuracy of statements made by elected officials, celebrities, and other public figures of note.
    • Viral Claims or Content
        • Focusing on fact-checking viral claims circulating on social media.
    • Economy
        • The fact-checking organization focuses on verifying claims about the economy, about economic issues, about a regional or national economy, about the global economy.
    • Science and Technology
        • The fact-checking organization focuses on verifying claims about science and science-related matters, issues or topics. Includes climate change.
    • Education
      • The fact-checking organization focuses on verifying claims in the field of education, about local, national or international education.
    • Other 
      • Fact checking on business, citizenship, city, crime, entertainment, finance, immigration, international relations, jobs, law, music, opinion, religion, social policies, sport, taxes, trade or other topics.

Dissemination Channels The process or mediums used by fact-checking organizations or groups to make their results available to the general public:

    • Website
        • The URL where the fact-checking group posts its debunked claims or articles analyzing claims.
    • Social Media
        • Dissemination of fact-checks on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Line,Telegram or others.
    • Blogs
        • A regularly updated series of web posts, in chronological order. 
    • Podcasts
        • Distributing fact-checks by digital audio recordings, streaming or downloadable.
    • Television
        • A program or show distributed by television broadcasting.
    • Radio
        • A program or show distributed by radio.
    • Other
      • Includes press releases, or op-eds.

Vetting Methods – The methodology of investigating and assessing the accuracy of a claim.

Note: the categories below are work-in-progress and will be refined prior to the public release. 

    • Select a Claim to Fact Check
        • Selection of statement containing a fact or figure whose truthfulness can be objectively 
        • verified. A claim does not include opinions.
    • Find the Original Source
        • Contact or attempt to contact the person, website or organization who made the claim.  If looking at a viral post, trace the source of the image or video, data or facts of the statement with online fact-checking tools.
      • Verify the Information.
        • Check the information or data in the claim with official, primary sources, including official press statements, speeches, events, public or locally available sources, government reports, academic studies, online documents and databases. 
    • Consult Expert Sources
      • Consultation of a variety of experts including specialists and academics, those who can explain nuances of the information being fact-checked. 
    • N/A – Could not be found.

Rating System  A system to convey the veracity of a claim to the public. 

Note: the categories below are work-in-progress and will be refined prior to the public release. 

    • Numerical System  
      • A rating system based on a numerical scale. For example 1-5 or 1-10, etc.
    • Colour-coded System
      • A rating system based on a series or groupings of colors to denote different levels of veracity. Examples include: red=false, orange=misleading, green=true, etc.
    • Pictorial System
      • A rating system based on pictures or pictograms that denote veracity. Examples include: a series of Pinocchios, pants-on-fire or crows, etc.
    • Textual System
      • A rating system based on words that denote veracity. Examples include: True, Mostly True, Somewhat True, Misleading, Ambiguous, Mostly False, False, or Fact/Fiction, etc.
    • N/A
      • The fact-checking organization or group does not have a rating system.

Twitter – The Twitter handle for the fact-checking organization or group. (if available)

Facebook The  Facebook page of the fact-checking organization or group. (if available)

IFCN Signatories? – Denotes whether fact-checker is a member of the International Fact-Checking Network (ICFN) with either “Y” for yes, or “N” for no.