Our Opinion: Consult fact-checking sites to cut through nonsense in presidential contest

November 5th, 2016 11:15 pm - updated: 11:15 pm.

If you’re planning to vote in Tuesday’s presidential election – and we hope that you are – don’t base your decision on any of the ridiculous claims, counter-claims and outright kooky stories that pass for “political discourse” on social media.

Use an online, fact-checking resource to help you cut through the clutter. Below are three trusted options.

PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning project run by the Tampa Bay Times, helps readers to separate fact from fiddlesticks.

Among the items recently posted on its site were these gems: “Hillary Clinton’s top 10 most misleading claims,” “Donald Trump’s top 10 most misleading claims,” and “The biggest flip-flops by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.” The site also contains an analysis of the “top 10 most aired political advertisements.”

Using its trademark “Truth-O-Meter,” the site rates candidates’ statements on a scale ranging from “True” to “Pants on Fire!”

You also can access the project’s Pennsylvania edition, where you can find, for instance, the skinny on those Philadelphia voting divisions that recorded no Republican votes in the 2012 presidential election.

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, bills itself as a “consumer advocate for voters.” Its stated aim: “to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.”

One section of the site has been devoted to the “2016 Elections,” with categories covering candidates including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

The site’s featured articles in recent days included “Spinning the FBI Letter” and “Democratic Deceptions.” The latter article takes Dems in several states to task for “engaging in a widespread pattern of deception, trying to tie Donald Trump around the necks of Republican House candidates who actually have repudiated him.

“In Pennsylvania,” the article states, “the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claimed GOP House candidate Brian Fitzpatrick ‘supports Donald Trump,’ even though he never clearly endorsed Trump and said (in October) he won’t be voting for Trump because of his ‘disgusting’ comments about women.”

Snopes.com, a rumor research website, tries to dispel urban legends and many of the World Wide Web’s most audacious tall tales. Operators of the site bill it as “a completely independent, self-sufficient entity.”

Did Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton refuse to exit her vehicle at a Florida event because certain people started to chant “lock her up.” Has actor Matthew McConaughey endorsed Republican contender Donald Trump, as it might appear from an online video circulating last month? (In both cases, says Snopes, the answer is no.)

Thanks to today’s technology, you and others have access to a tremendous amount of information. But when using that information as the basis for important decisions, be sure that it’s good information.

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