RAND: Fighting Disinformation Online – A Database of Web Tools

RAND Corporation

The rise of the internet and the advent of social media have fundamentally changed the information ecosystem, giving the public direct access to more information than ever before. But it’s often nearly impossible to distinguish accurate information from low-quality or false content. This means that disinformation—false or intentionally misleading information that aims to achieve an economic or political goal—can become rampant, spreading further and faster online than it ever could in another format.

As part of its Countering Truth Decay initiative, and with support from the Hewlett Foundation, RAND is responding to this urgent problem. Our researchers identified and characterized the universe of online tools developed by nonprofits and civil society organizations to target online disinformation. These tools were created to help information consumers, researchers, and journalists navigate today’s challenging information environment.

Goals of the Project
The purpose of this project is three-fold. We seek to:

  • Identify and collect in one place a set of resources that can help users combat the challenge of disinformation, gain greater awareness of the media ecosystem, and become more-savvy information media consumers
  • Inform funders and developers about the set of tools currently under development, those tools in need of funding, and areas where additional development would be beneficial
  • Provide a map of ongoing projects and developed tools that could serve as an input to efforts to build a field around the study of disinformation and its remedies.

Anti-Disinformation Tools by Category
Tools that work against disinformation take on many forms—from websites powered by human fact-checkers to apps that use artificial intelligence to detect bots. We’ve grouped the tools in this database into several categories, with some belonging to multiple categories.

This site focuses on the U.S. market and includes only tools created by civil society organizations and nonprofits. Know about a tool that you don’t see below? Read more about our methodology, criteria for inclusion, and category definitions, or tell us about the tool you know.

Bot/spam detection
These tools aim to identify automated accounts on social media platforms.

Codes and standards
This applies to all tools that establish new norms, principles, or best practices to govern a set of processes or to guide conduct and behavior. In the majority of the tools presented here, codes and standards aim to guard against disinformation or misinformation, to increase the quality of journalism, or to commit individuals or companies to a set of principles.

Credibility scoring
Credibility scoring tools attach a rating or grade to individual sources based on their accuracy, transparency, quality, and other measures of trustworthiness.

Disinformation tracking
These tools track and/or study the flow and prevalence of disinformation.

This applies to any interactive courses, games, and activities aimed at combating disinformation by teaching individuals new skills or concepts.

This applies to fact-checking tools that seek to ascertain the accuracy of information or the authenticity of photos and videos.

Whitelisting tools create trusted lists of IP addresses or websites to distinguish between trusted users or trusted sites and ones that may be fake or malicious.

Learn More About Truth Decay
Fueled in part by the spread of disinformation, Truth Decay is the term RAND is using to refer to the diminishing role of facts, data, and analysis in political and civil discourse and the policymaking process. Truth Decay is characterized by four trends: increasing disagreement about facts and data, blurring of the line between opinion and fact, increasing relative volume of opinion compared to fact, and declining trust in institutions that used to be looked to as authoritative sources of factual information. Truth Decay poses a threat to democracy, to policymaking, and to the very notion of civic discourse.

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s driving this phenomenon, this video is a good place to start. You can also browse all of RAND’s research and commentary on Truth Decay.

If you would like to help improve the information in this database, you can recommend a new tool or suggest a revision to an existing tool. Our team will review your submission and follow up as appropriate.