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Journalism & Democracy

The Rise of Fact-Checking Sites in Europe

The new millennium has seen the rise and rapid global spread of what can fairly be called a new democratic institution, the independent political fact-checker. The first organisations dedicated to publicly evaluating the truth of political claims appeared in the United States in the early 2000s, anchoring what would become a staple of political reporting practised by nearly every major US news outlet. Over the past decade, meanwhile, independent fact-checkers have emerged in more than 50 countries spanning every continent. According to the most reliable global count, 113 such groups are active today. More than 90% were established since 2010; about 50 launched in the past two years alone.This report surveys the landscape of fact-checking outlets in Europe, a landscape which is remarkably diverse and fast-changing. The first regular source of political fact-checking appears to have been a blog launched by the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News in 2005, to cover a parliamentary election. In 2008 similar efforts appeared in France and the Netherlands, and by the end of 2010 fact-checkers were active in ten countries. In all, more than 50 dedicated fact-checking outlets have launched across Europe over the past decade, though roughly a third of those have closed their doors or operate only occasionally.