Informed Democracy: An Online Tool for Better Communication Between the People and Politicians; Fact-checking Websites: The Struggle over Their Credibility

Zoeller, Patrick, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Nguyen, Rich, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

To evaluate candidates for elective office, voters can study their records, their platforms, and their stories online. However, such an effort can be difficult. Voters seeking information may find propaganda instead; the content presented may be selective, inaccurate, or unverifiable. Websites characterizing themselves as sources of impartial information may have political agendas to advance.
How can the people and politicians better communicate their ideas to each other? The U.S. has long been politically divided. Because a digital platform can keep users informed and engaged, a consensus-building platform was developed that can support debate and face-to-face discussions among stakeholders. The platform is intended to facilitate constructive conversation and consensus-building among diverse opinion groups. To design the web application, we applied frameworks and design patterns, and used cloud computing.
How have critics and proponents of PolitiFact, OpenSecrets,, and Snopes attacked or defended the validity of these sites as sources of guidance for voters? The reliability of fact checking websites is contested. To their defenders, fact checkers are a valuable check on the proliferation of misinformation. To their critics, however, fact checking websites interfere with the free exchange of information and ideas, and disproportionately reinforce liberal biases in the media.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
fact check, social media, bias, democracy

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Rich Nguyen
STS Advisor: Peter Norton
Technical Team Members: Juan Tapia Claros

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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