5 Essential Political Fact-Checking Apps That Will Help You Shut Down Your Uncle's Totally False Claim
When you want to stay informed about politics, it can be tough to separate fact from fiction. When you listen to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the 2016 elections — or even in state or local elections, to be honest — it can sometimes be difficult to determine when political candidates are being honest in speeches or debates. Of course, you can wait for outlets like Bustle, Politfact, or The Washington Post to give you the full story. But if you need to learn what's true in real time, you're in luck. There's an app for that.
Mobile technology is having a serious influence on how people get information about politics and how we interact with elected officials. Analysts at the Pew Research Center have been tracking the impact of cell phones and app technology on political discourse, and discovered that the number of voters using cell phones to track election news more than doubled between the 2010 and 2014 elections (jumping from 13 percent to 28 percent). In particular, the number of voters using social networks to follow political leaders has nearly tripled since the 2010 midterm elections. And it isn't just millennials; the most growth has been among people 30 to 49 years old.
So not only are more of us starting to use cell phones to stay informed about politics, but there's also been a rise in candidates using social media tools like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to engage with voters. Which means that unscripted, off-the-cuff remarks can go viral in an instant — a dynamic that can make fact-checking difficult. But before you give up on staying informed, try these five apps, all of which are available for your iPhone or Android device. They should help you keep any political claim in its proper context.
Is Your Candidate Telling The Truth About The Poll Numbers? Check FrontRunner
Want to double check whether a candidate is actually leading or trailing in a certain demographic? FrontRunner is the app you need. The free iPhone app combines the latest available polling data to quickly summarize a candidate's place in the election or to analyze how they're doing over time.
For Day-To-Day Statements, Try The Politifact App
When you can't head over to its Pulitzer-Prize-winning website to check on statements made by politicians and political pundits — or even the stories you see friends passing around on Facebook — try Politifact's Truth-O-Meter app. Available on iTunes and Android for $1.99, the app uses an easy meter to track statements and campaign pledges by elected leaders.
In An Argument About Politics And Need The Truth Fast? Try Settle It!
This app is particularly helpful if you find yourself in a political debate. A project of the Poynter Institute, the John and James L. Knight Foundation, and Politifact, the Settle It! app expands fact-checking to campaign ads. The free app for iTunes and Android even lets you challenge friends on social media to see whether they can spot which statements are real and which aren't.
Find Out If Your Representative Really Supports An Issue Using Countable
Gone are the days when you needed a degree in public policy to understand state and federal legislation. A new, free app on iTunes called Countable delivers an objective summary of bills in play, tells your representative how you'd like them to vote, then tracks how they actually voted. That'll put you ahead of the game in the next debate!
Find Out Where Your Candidate's Money Comes From Using Dollarocracy
Figuring out where a candidate's money comes from can be tricky on your own. And in an election year, knowing who's paying the bill is an important part of fact-checking television and radio ads. To help with that, the Center for Responsible Politics introduced Dollarocracy in 2010 to help voters quickly figure out the spending and contributions behind Congressional races. The free iTunes app is a great tool when you need to know which donors or special interest groups back a political candidate.
Whether you're trying to separate fact from fiction before you cast your ballot or gearing up for your next dinner table discussion about politics, these apps have you covered. So the next time you hear something that sounds outrageous on television or on Twitter, you can be the first of your friends to know the truth.