Africa's first fact-checking website hits million visitors

Africa's first fact-checking website hits million visitors

JOHANNESBURG - Africa's first independent fact-checking website Africa Check, launched two years ago to promote accuracy in public debate and the media, announced Thursday that it had hit a million visitors.

Crossing the million mark "is symbolic for us", said Africa Check editor Julian Rademeyer.

"It is reaching a milestone moment in the number of readers." The main point of the website is to promote transparency and push for "accuracy in public debate, and encourage honesty of politicians", he said.

Through a network of researchers spanning the continent, the organisation checks facts pronounced by politicians, business leaders or in the media, verifying them and then publishing their findings.

It has over the past two years published over two hundred guides, factsheets and reports casting a critical eye on fake health cures, water quality exposés, and the effect of gun control legislation on murder rates.

"We had a number of cases where changes have been made," following some of the exposés, said Rademeyer.

"It's a way of checking claims made by public officials.

"It's holding them to account. It gets people to interrogate the claims that have been made," he said.

The africacheck.org website was set up by the AFP Foundation, the non-profit media training arm of Agence France-Presse, in October 2012 with seed money from Google.

It operates in partnership with the prestigious University of the Witwatersrand's journalism department and a core team of researchers based in Johannesburg.

Modelled on similar lines to US and European websites such as FactCheck.org, it also features a guide for identifying fake "facts".

Most of its readers are from the continent, with the majority drawn from the sub-Saharan Africa's three largest economies - South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya - but users are also recorded from Europe and the United States.

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