Election fever: 6 mobile apps that can keep you informed
You're sitting around the dinner table and your obnoxious brother-in-law states as a fact something that his favorite politician said, and which you suspect is a total fabrication. How do you counter him? Simple -- pull out your smartphone and check PolitiFact.
PolitiFact is an app from the Tampa Bay Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning site PolitiFact.com. Its sole purpose is to check specific statements from politicians, pundits and other political speakers to find out how much of what they say is actually based in fact. As you might suspect, the results are both interesting and dismaying.
Each statement is rated on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter as being True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False or False; particularly egregious falsehoods get a special rating of Pants on Fire. In its opening screen, the app lists recent statements by various politicians along with a photo of the person and a rating icon; click on the statement and you are taken to a menu that lets you read the full explanation of why that rating was given. You can also choose to see more statements by (and more information about) that person.
If you're in a contrary mood, you can list statements by their ratings (for example, all those that have been rated Pants on Fire, which is a lot of fun). You can also look at the Truth-O-Meter, which shows the general rating of your favorite (or least favorite) politicians on a continuum from green (True) to black (Pants on Fire). You can click into each to see the person's percentage of statements that come under each rating, and click into those for lists of statements. And you can search for statements on various subjects as well.
The PolitiFact app has a few additional features as well. There's the Promises screen that checks how many of President Obama's campaign promises have been carried out as opposed to those of the GOP leadership in Congress. There are also a few extra fact checks; for example, of some of the ads that ran during the Florida primaries. And the Flip-O-Meter lets you know who has flip-flopped on various issues.
PolitiFact isn't a perfect app; for example, sometimes it takes a few too many clicks to get back to the home screen, and it doesn't have all the information that's available on the Web site (such as the ability to check statements made during specific state primaries). And it's not free; the app costs $1.99.
Nevertheless, this is a great fact-checking resource that should come in very handy as the primary season winds its way into the general election. PolitiFact is an app that I'm definitely keeping on my smartphone.
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