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

Set up in 2012, we have offices in South Africa, Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria.

Our statement of principles sets out how we operate as a whole, how we select claims to check and the way we do our research.

Here 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 suitable rating for the claim. When they don’t all agree, they take a vote.

We choose each rating to give readers the clearest understanding we can of the accuracy of the statement – according to the best evidence publicly available at the time.

Below we explain what each rating means, and then the five key principles behind our ratings.

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. More research is needed.

Misleading

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

Exaggerated

The claim exaggerates the facts.

Understated

The claim understates the facts.

Incorrect

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

Checked

Multiple claims have been fact-checked.

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. 

2. Burden of proof is with the speaker

People who present claims as statements of fact should be willing and able to present their evidence for them. While Africa Check will seek to verify the facts, it is not possible to establish them every time. When the facts can’t be verified, we rate the claim as unproven.

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 a reason.

4. The best evidence publicly available – at the time

Almost all data, the whole world over, is something of an estimate. Across Africa the quality of data varies, not just from country to country but from subject to subject. To rate claims we rely on the best evidence publicly available at the time the claim was made. 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 and direct readers to the change.

For more on how we work, see our statement of principles.