About AAP FactCheck

AAP FactCheck is commited to truth and accuracy.

Our conclusions about the veracity of news and social media content are formed through rigorous questioning, careful consideration of evidence and verification using multiple sources.

The work of AAP FactCheck journalists is subjected to a strenuous review process in which the investigation processes and final report are cross-checked and challenged. We do not editorialise nor impose value judgments on the subject matter and we do not focus on one issue, one side of an argument or one source.

The AAP FactCheck team are experienced journalists trained in traditional and digital fact-checking methods. They work within a framework that is approved by the AAP Standards committee, compliant with AAP’s broader editorial standards and equal to industry best practice. We meet the highest international standards and are accredited with the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network.

We welcome submissions from the public and media, and can be contacted at factcheck@aap.com.au with any suggestions or feedback.

METHODOLOGY



Claim selection

News Media Claims

AAP FactCheck examines the veracity of news media statements presented as fact by political and public figures. The statements must be quoted in the news media, and include checkable claims as opposed to opinion and commentary.

AAP FactCheck aims to complete its assessment of the statement quickly to ensure the outcomes remain as relevant as possible. We have no political affiliations nor agenda, simply a focus on revealing the facts.

We encourage members of the media and the public to reach out to us with suggestions for content to check at factcheck@aap.com.au.

AAP FactCheck also monitors print, online and broadcast media to identify statements that meet our Claim Selection criteria (below), and we accept referrals from AAP’s own editorial network.

When selecting a news media submission for verification, AAP FactCheck looks for the following things:

  1. That the checkable claim is contained in a direct quote from a public figure or otherwise influential individual.
  2. That the quoted statement contains clearly verifiable elements. AAP FactCheck cannot assess personal opinion or editorial comment.
  3. That the quoted statement appeared in the news media recently and is relevant to a broad audience.
  4. What community consequences there may be if the claim is false and not addressed by AAP FactCheck.

In addition:

  1. AAP FactCheck will give priority to submissions containing statements of a socio-political nature.
  2. AAP FactCheck does not assess, nor offer judgement of, reportage. Instead, we seek to minimise misinformation, serving both the news media and the general public.
  3. AAP FactCheck staff must declare any conflicts of interest, and we monitor the mix of claims addressed to avoid any perception of bias.

The final decision on what submissions are accepted rests with the AAP FactCheck editor, who may also weigh the current workload against our response-time benchmarks.

If you would like to suggest a submission for review, please contact us at factcheck@aap.com.au

Social Media Claims

AAP FactCheck also verifies selected social media content.

As a partner in Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking (3PFC) program, AAP FactCheck is one of many fact-checking organisations working around the world to combat misinformation on social media. The 3PFC program aims to reduce the spread of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram.

AAP FactCheck retains full editorial independence and control over the content with which we engage.

Social media content that may be false, misleading or otherwise suspicious can be identified in a number of ways. Facebook systems flag text, video and images that may require further examination and refer that content to factchecking partners such as us for a decision as to whether action is required. In addition, AAP FactCheck journalists use digital tools to surface questionable content and also examine submissions from the public. 

AAP FactCheck checks the veracity of selected content after considering what is most relevant in our market, as well as the consequences of allowing potentially false content to continue circulating. We also consider how much attention a piece of content is getting, with the goal of targeting false information with an increasing audience.

We apply the uncompromising journalistic principles of Australian Associated Press to deliver independent, evidence-based verdicts free of ideology or bias. These verdicts are used to inform efforts to minimise the spread of false news and misinformation across Facebook and Instagram.

If you see social media content you believe is false or misleading, send the link to factcheck@aap.com.au.



Research procedures

Newly selected submissions are discussed at the daily AAP FactCheck conference. The team identifies the verifiable elements of each contested claim and discusses the most relevant, trusted sources to draw on. The editor then assigns each submission to a dedicated journalist.

The AAP FactCheck journalist then begins the work of verifying the facts. This may include contacting experts with varying views on the matter, non-partisan government agencies, academics, think tanks, reputable charities or other well-respected non-government organisations with relevant, specific and recognised expertise in the subject area. The journalist may also turn to reliable secondary source material, such as government reports and court documents, and must always consider contacting the person who made the statement to ask for their supporting evidence, and request comment.

Once there is enough evidence to establish the statement’s truth or otherwise, a draft is written.



Sources

AAP FactCheck draws on a variety of reliable sources to verify the checkable claims. In every case, the chain of evidence supporting AAP FactCheck verdicts will be clearly noted and published within the copy itself, so that any reader may test its validity. We seek to have at least two different sources per article.

AAP’s Accuracy policy helps guide AAP FactCheck‘s choices when it comes to sources. The full AAP Code of Practice, which applies to AAP FactCheck, can be found here.

1. Accuracy

1.1. AAP has a valued reputation as “the reliable source”. All information, comment and opinion reported on our wires must be authoritatively sourced.

1.2. Sources must be identified by name unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so. Always query a source’s motives when they request anonymity.

1.3. The vague attribution “sources say” is generally not acceptable, unless it is the only way to protect a vital source in a matter of public interest.

1.4. While photographic images can be enhanced to improve resolution, an image must not be altered in such a way that it misrepresents the subject matter.



Writing and editing

After thorough research, AAP FactCheck journalists write a concise, fully-annotated draft based on the research, expert opinion and data. It is then reviewed by the AAP FactCheck Editor who ensures the reference material has been correctly interpreted and used, challenges the assertions made and ensures the piece meets all AAP FactCheck standards.

The copy is refined as necessary before the AAP FactCheck team discusses and applies the appropriate verdict. The AAP FactCheck Editor has final discretion on the verdict. The copy is then sub-edited (for grammar, spelling, structure and logic) before being published.



Publishing

Content created by AAP FactCheck is published on this website, shared on social media platforms, and issued direct to media clients where appropriate.



Verdicts

AAP FactCheck applies one of eight possible verdicts to each fact-checked submission from the news media.

The verdict is designed to be a clear and simple conclusion that is supported by the detail of the article and reference material.

The verdicts are defined as:

  • True – The checkable claim is true.
  • Mostly True – The claim is mostly accurate but there is a minor error or problem.
  • Somewhat True – A part or parts of the claim are accurate but there is also a significant problem or inaccuracy.
  • Misleading –  The claim is accurate in parts but information has also been presented incorrectly, out of context or omitted.
  • Ambiguous – It is not possible to determine the veracity of the claim.
  • Somewhat False –  The claim has a problem or inaccuracy but it does contain a significant element or elements of truth.
  • Mostly False – The claim is mostly false with one minor element of truth.
  • False – The checkable claim is false.

AAP FactCheck applies the following verdicts to fact-checked social media content:

  • False – Content that has no basis in fact.  
  • Altered – Image, audio or video content that has been edited or synthesised beyond adjustments for clarity or quality, in ways that could mislead people.
  • Partly False – Content that has some factual inaccuracies. 
  • Missing Context – Content that may mislead without additional context.
  •  Satire – Content that uses irony, exaggeration or absurdity for criticism or awareness, particularly in the context of political, religious, or social issues, but that a reasonable user would not immediately understand to be satirical.
  • True – Content that contains no inaccurate or misleading information.

(Social Media verdicts updated Wednesday September 30, 2020 1410 AEST to reflect additional ratings implemented by Facebook.)



Corrections

AAP FactCheck shares the same content corrections principles as our long-established parent organisation, AAP.

Inaccuracies or suspected inaccuracies that affect the integrity of stories published by AAP FactCheck will be dealt with promptly. An initial response can be expected within one business day of a problem coming to our attention. Where we acknowledge an inaccuracy, a correction will be urgently issued.

Challenges to accuracy or fairness in our articles will be referred to the AAP FactCheck Editor, who may consult the AAP Editor.

Corrections to AAP FactCheck articles will be published in the same locations as the original, accompanied by a footnote outlining the reason for the correction (to the extent possible without repeating or compounding the issue).

If a correction is not warranted, AAP FactCheck may choose to update an article, for example, to add new information or rephrase a sentence for improved clarity. Any such changes will be explained in a footnote.

AAP FactCheck is committed to maintaining the highest standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness. If you believe we have failed to meet this standard at any time and would like to request a correction, provide feedback or make a complaint, contact us at factcheck@aap.com.au.

If you are not satisfied by AAP FactCheck’s response, there are further courses of action.

  1. You may contact AAP Standards, an independently-chaired committee that reviews complaints about AAP’s services – including AAP FactCheck – and the initial management of those complaints. Standards can be reached via email: standards@aap.com.au.
  2. Our parent company AAP is a member of, and is bound by the Standards of Practice of, the Australian Press Council. If you believe AAP FactCheck may have breached the Standards of Practice, you may contact the independent council by email, info@presscouncil.org.au, or phone +61 2 9261 1930. For further information please visit www.presscouncil.org.au.
  3. AAP FactCheck is a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, and as such, is bound by the IFCN Code of Principles. If you believe AAP has breached the IFCN Code of Principles, you may submit a complaint here.



News Media Claims

AAP FactCheck examines the veracity of statements presented as fact by political and public figures. The statements must be quoted in the news media, and include checkable claims as opposed to opinion and commentary.

Make a submission

If you see a contentious claim quoted in the media, AAP FactCheck may verify it for you. Please review our Claim Selection criteria before making a submission. All emails to FactCheck@aap.com.au must include:

  1. Your full name
  2. Preferred contact number
  3. Your company or employer (if relevant)

Please note that we do not accept anonymous requests.

For details of how we use your personal information, please see the AAP Privacy Policy at aap.io/legal.

If you are submitting a statement for checking, please answer all of the following:

  1. What statement/element needs verification?
  2. Why do you believe this statement needs checking?
  3. Who made the statement?
  4. When was it made?
  5. Where did you see it published/broadcast?

Attach a copy of the claim, or a link to the published claim, if possible.



Social Media Claims

Our methodology

AAP FactCheck also verifies selected social media content.

As a partner in Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking (3PFC) program, AAP FactCheck is one of many fact-checking organisations working around the world to combat misinformation on social media. The 3PFC program aims to reduce the spread of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram.

 AAP FactCheck retains full editorial independence and control over the content with which we engage.

Social media content that may be false, misleading or otherwise suspicious can be identified in a number of ways. Facebook systems flag text, video and images that may require further examination and refer that content to factchecking partners such as us for a decision whether action is required. In addition, AAP FactCheck journalists use digital tools to surface questionable content and also examine submissions from the public. 

AAP FactCheck checks the veracity of selected false content after considering what is most relevant in our market, as well as the consequences of allowing potentially false content to continue circulating. We also consider how much attention a piece of content is getting, with the goal of targeting false information with an increasing audience.

We apply the uncompromising journalistic principles of Australian Associated Press to deliver independent, evidence-based verdicts free of ideology or bias. These verdicts are used to inform efforts to minimise the spread of false news and misinformation across Facebook and Instagram.

If you see social media content you believe is false or misleading, send the link to factcheck@aap.com.au.



Neutrality statement

AAP has always been at the forefront of delivering impartial, independent and accurate news to Australia’s leading media outlets and beyond. It is one of only a handful of news agencies worldwide not funded or influenced by its government.

AAP FactCheck was built on this foundation, and the articles we produce are driven only by the available evidence. In following the facts, we adhere to the AAP policies that protect and enhance our neutrality.

AAP FactCheck scrupulously avoids commentary, opinion and political bias. AAP Factcheck does not assign content to staff who have a conflict of interest. As outlined in AAP’s Code of Practice, failure to disclose a personal conflict can result in dismissal, at the AAP Editor’s discretion

The section of the AAP Code of Practice pertaining to Impartiality and Fairness is copied below.

2. Impartiality and fairness

2.1. AAP does not promote particular views or commercial interests, either through undue emphasis or by suppressing relevant material.

2.2. In reporting views on controversial matters, always seek to include a fair balance of other views. Any comment or conjecture by the journalist writing the story should be identifiable as such.

2.3. AAP journalists have latitude to express their own views more freely only when, in the opinion of the Editor in Chief or Editor, they have special knowledge or expertise or sufficient reputation. Such pieces should be labelled as View, Comment or Analysis.

2.4. Individuals or groups singled out for criticism should be given a right of reply, in the original story whenever possible.

2.5. Emotive or contentious adjectives should be avoided unless they are being quoted.



Code of Practice

AAP has formulated a Code of Practice for journalists bringing together various industry codes and our own policies, and all journalists are expected to read it and abide by it in the course of their duties at AAP.

AAP’s role as the national news agency is to produce a news service which maintains the highest standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness.

The company’s policy on editorial standards addresses news agency requirements, and is in line with generally recognised principles of ethical, professional journalism.

AAP’s policy is as follows:

1. Accuracy

1.1. AAP has a valued reputation as “the reliable source”. All information, comment and opinion reported on our wires must be authoritatively sourced.

1.2. Sources must be identified by name unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so. Always query a source’s motives when they request anonymity.

1.3. The vague attribution “sources say” is generally not acceptable, unless it is the only way to protect a vital source in a matter of public interest.

1.4. While photographic images can be enhanced to improve resolution, an image must not be altered in such a way that it misrepresents the subject matter.

2. Impartiality and fairness

2.1. AAP does not promote particular views or commercial interests, either through undue emphasis or by suppressing relevant material.

2.2. In reporting views on controversial matters, always seek to include a fair balance of other views. Any comment or conjecture by the journalist writing the story should be identifiable as such.

2.3. AAP journalists have latitude to express their own views more freely only when, in the opinion of the Editor in Chief or Editor, they have special knowledge or expertise or sufficient reputation. Such pieces should be labelled as View, Comment or Analysis.

2.4. Individuals or groups singled out for criticism should be given a right of reply, in the original story whenever possible.

2.5. Emotive or contentious adjectives should be avoided unless they are being quoted.

3. Corrections

3.1. Inaccuracies or suspected inaccuracies which affect the integrity of stories on our wires must be dealt with promptly.

3.2. When we acknowledge an inaccuracy, a correction should be issued at urgent priority.

3.3. Challenges to accuracy or fairness in our stories must be referred to the News Editor or Editor. If there is serious doubt, particularly on legal grounds, we must alert subscribers to hold a story pending clarification. If such doubts are confirmed, we must advise subscribers to kill the story, issue take-down notices to internet subscribers and replace with a corrected version as soon as possible.

4. Conflicts of interest

4.1. Journalists must consult the Editor before covering a story which involves or might involve a conflict of interest, either through active membership of a political, lobby or community group, or from personal, family or financial considerations.

4.2. Journalists must not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication, nor should they pass such information to others.

4.3. Journalists must not write about shares, securities and companies in whose performance they know that they or their close families have a significant financial interest without disclosing the interest to the Editor or the Finance Editor.

4.4. Journalists must disclose to the Editor or Finance Editor any personal trading, either directly or through nominees or agents, in shares or securities about which they have written recently or about which they intend to write in the near future.

4.5. Failure to notify the Editor of any real or potential conflict of interest before a story is issued on AAP wires may result in dismissal.

5. Invitations

5.1. Invitations to AAP journalists from government, commercial and sporting organisations for expenses-paid trips and other assistance to cover events in which those organisations have an interest must be referred to the Editor.

5.2. Generally, such invitations will be accepted only if they are made to AAP as an organisation and provided the Editor or appropriate desk editor is satisfied that the event is worth covering.

5.3. In no circumstances can AAP guarantee to write a particular story.

5.4. Travel stories written as a result of invitations should concentrate on the region or the area, rather than the specifics of a hotel or resort. Travel features should include a “how to get there” section at the bottom of the story with details of airline schedules, etc, (and) a disclosure such as “The author travelled as a guest of…”.

5.5. No AAP journalist may be interviewed in a professional capacity in any of the news media, nor take part in a panel discussion, without the prior approval of the Editor.

6. Misrepresentation

6.1. AAP does not sanction misrepresentation, deceit or subterfuge to obtain information.

6.2 AAP journalists must clearly identify themselves as such when interviewing and gathering material.

6.3. Journalists must not obtain information or publish material obtained clandestinely by using listening devices or by intercepting private telephone conversations.

7. Discrimination

7.1. Gratuitous emphasis should not be placed on gender, religion, minority groups, sexual orientation, race, colour or physical or mental disability. Such references should be included in copy only where they are strictly relevant.

8. Offensive language

8.1. Offensive language, especially obscenities and terms of abuse relating to particular groups in the community should be used only when they are essential to the meaning of the story, and never gratuitously.

8.2. Circumstances in which the words used are essential to a story might include use of a swear word in public by a major public figure; or a direct quote of an important piece of evidence in a court case, but then only if the word itself is an integral part of the evidence.

8.3. Stories containing offensive language must begin with a warning to subscribers, so that they can make their own judgment.

9. Privacy

9.1. Personal privacy should be respected unless it interferes with publication of matters of public record, or of significant public interest. If in doubt, consult the Editor.

9.2. Approaches to people suffering trauma or grief should be undertaken with care and sensitivity.

9.3. Relatives of people convicted or accused of crime should not be identified unless reference to them is strictly relevant to the story.

10. Children

10.1. Children under the age of 16 should not be unduly prompted in interviews or given inducements to co-operate, and every effort should be made to seek the permission of a parent or other legally responsible adult.

10.2. Children should not be approached in schools without the permission of the school authority.

10.3. Children should not be identified in crime or court reports without legal advice.

11. Suicide

11.1. AAP does not report graphic details of suspected suicides or suicide attempts. See separate briefing on reporting suicides.

11.2. Any suicide notes obtained by AAP staff must immediately and unfailingly be referred to the Editor.

12. Public emergencies

12.1. Great care must be taken in reporting threats of violence to the public by bombs or other means of extortion such as contamination of groceries.

12.2. Generally, we do not run stories about hoaxes or suspected hoaxes unless there is an overriding public interest. If in doubt, consult the Editor.

13. Social media

13.1. AAP journalists may not use personal blogs or social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to post AAP-generated material or links to such material, or to make comments relating to their work, other AAP employees or to AAP and its policies and practices.

13.2. Content from social networking sites should be used in AAP stories only when the material is publicly available and the bona fides of the source has been established and checked. This should be done in consultation with the desk editor.

13.3. Material from social networking sites like Facebook may be used only from pages that are publicly available. Journalists must not attempt to bypass security settings to obtain access to such material. Images from such sites can only be used in consultation with the News Editor or Editor.