Africa Check is a non-partisan organisation that exists to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa, and thereby raise the quality of information available to the public.

Set up in 2012, we have offices in South Africa, Senegal and the United Kingdom, and work in other countries including Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya.

You can see on this page a statement of our principles: how we operate as a whole, how we select claims to check and the way we do our research.

Below we explain the ratings we give once we have done that research: how we decide the ratings, what they mean and how you can check our findings.

Deciding our ratings

When we have completed our research, three staff – the lead researcher on the report and two editors – debate the appropriate rating for the claim, with a vote where agreement is not unanimous.

We decide ratings to provide readers with the clearest understanding we can find of the accuracy of the statement – according to the best evidence publicly available at the time.

See below what each rating means and five key principles for how they apply:

Correct

The claim is accurate, according to the best evidence publicly available at this time, and leaves out nothing significant.

Mostly correct

The claim contains elements of truth but is either not entirely accurate, according to the best evidence publicly available at this time, or needs clarification.

Unproven

Evidence publicly available at this time neither proves nor disproves the statement.

Misleading

Elements of the claim are accurate but presented in a way that it is misleading.

Exaggerated / downplayed

The claim exaggerates / downplays the facts.

Incorrect

The claim is inaccurate according to the best evidence publicly at this time.

Five key principles

1. We rate statements of fact

Africa Check does not rate the accuracy of ideas, philosophies or arguments. We rate the accuracy of what people say and present as statements of fact. We focus on both the precise words they use and the context of the statement. Was the claim presented in context or was significant information left out?

2. Burden of proof is with the speaker

People who present claims as statements of fact should present their evidence for them. While Africa Check will seek to verify the facts, it is often not possible to establish them. Any claim that is unproven is just a theory and should be presented as such.

3. A focus on what is significant

When we rate the accuracy of statements, we do not set out to identify tiny inconsistencies. Precision is important but we are not interested in numbers down to three decimal places, so to speak, unless that matters for some reason.

4. The best evidence publicly available – at the time

Almost all data, the whole world over, is something of an approximation. Across Africa also the quality of data varies, not just from country to country but from subject to subject and also over time. To rate claims we rely on the best evidence publicly available at the time that we research and publish the report. This ranges from clearly sourced data and statistics to on-the-record interviews. We do not use off-the-record briefings or evidence unavailable to the public.

5. Mistakes and updating when new or better evidence appears

We work hard to make our research findings accurate, according to the best evidence available at the time. When there is something we miss, or we make a mistake, or new or better evidence appears about the facts at the time, let us know and we will review the report. If the report needs a correction or update we will do that.

For more on how we work, see this page which sets out a statement of our principles.