Best Tools for Fact-Checking Debates

Tech2Go: FactCheck.org and PolitiFact's app are resources that will help you find the truth.

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(The Root) -- If my Facebook newsfeed is any indication, there aren't many people out there who have a lot of faith in the political process. It's very difficult to know what's true and what's false when it comes to the things you hear from any candidate. So as you're watching the rest of the presidential debates this year, keep these online resources handy and you won't have a problem separating fact from fiction. 

FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The first line of the mission statement makes it plain: "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." The website analyzes speeches, debates and other statements made by politicians and political candidates for accuracy and truthfulness.

You can submit questions and check out the "Viral Spiral," where the most widespread Internet rumors are addressed. A breakdown of the first presidential debate's exaggerations and outright false claims is already up on the home page. Follow @factcheckdotorg for real-time Twitter updates.

To enable us to get the facts on the go, PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning website run by the Tampa Bay Times, originated the "Truth-O-Meter" online and has now made it mobile. Described by mashable.com as a "nonpartisan BS meter," this app investigates any and all political public statements, and the Times' fact-checkers proof everything to ensure accuracy.

Politicians' statements are assigned truth ratings that range from "true" to "pants on fire," when someone is just telling a ridiculous tall tale. You can categorize ratings by subject -- e.g., health care, taxes -- and there are some new features for the app that you won't find on the website.

The Truth Index is like a Dow Jones industrial average of all the truth rulings so that you can track statements over time (it's currently down, by the way), and the Flip-O-Meter tally counts the number of political flip-flops. And even after the election, you can still stay current on how the winning candidates are doing on their campaign promises. The PolitiFact app is $1.99, but there is also a free version called "Settle It!" that allows you to look up Truth-O-Meter fact-checks from the website. Follow @politifact for Twitter updates.

Now it doesn't take much more than a couple of taps on your smartphone to better understand what's going on in the debates and on the campaign trail. Regardless of your political affiliation, it's in everyone's best interest to have the facts in order to make an informed decision at the polls. The next presidential debate is Oct. 16; Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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