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How to fact-check your petition

Why do I need to fact-check?


Signing a petition is an act of trust. It is a requirement that all information presented on Avaaz Community Petitions must be honest and accurate. This requirement is flagged during the petition creation process and in our content standards.

How to fact check your petition


USE RELIABLE SOURCES


Search the internet to find reliable sources for every factual claim you make, such as official documents and news articles from trusted media. Facts presented by established media organisations are far more trustworthy than ones on an anonymous blog, a niche website, or social media post. This is because professional media is concerned about its credibility and have procedures in place to check facts.

OPINIONS VS FACTS


Facts are statements that can be verified. Opinions are an expression of somebody’s judgment or belief. In the example, “My village has a shop which sells cherry ice cream, which I love” there are two facts, followed by one opinion.

AVOID MAKING CLAIMS YOU CAN’T VERIFY


For example, avoid saying, “The construction of the new highway will kill all the bears”, if there is no evidence to back this. Instead, consider phrasing your concern based on your opinion or that of others. For example: “experts from the Wildlife Bureau have said the bears’ habitat would be cut in two by the highway, threatening their movement and survival in tough winters”. Or, “The new highway could threaten the bears’ survival, as they need to travel to find food.”

NO PUBLIC SOURCES AVAILABLE?


If you can find no public documents or trusted media stories to back your text, then ask yourself why. Are you sure the information you present is accurate? What evidence do you have? Be sure to be as transparent about your sources as you can be. If it is based on something you witnessed, for example, say so, and add as much detail as you can. And use your real name, unless there’s a very strong reason not to (only the first name and first letter of the last name appear on the site).

Here’s an example of a fact-checked petition:


Stop oil drilling on the pristine coast of the Algarve!


Algarve attracts millions of visitors [1] to its wonderful beaches, great food, and beautiful weather [2]. This region depends on tourism [3], which depends on maintaining a clean environment and clean waters.

Oil company ENI/Galp has was given a license [4], against the will of the population [5], to drill in a migration route for dolphins and whales, without an environmental impact study [6]. And it’s an area of high earthquake risk [7].

We are sea people, not oil cleaners. This is a potential crime - like the Gulf of Mexico disaster - please help us stop it!


SOURCES:

[1] True: Algarve had more than 4 million tourists in 2016
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Portugal
https://www.ine.pt/ngt_server/attachfileu.jsp?look_parentBoui=299820007&att_display=n&att_download=y

[2] This claim wouldn't need to be fact-checked, because it's not a fact. Whether we find something beautiful, great, wrong or right, is an opinion.

[3] True: Tourism is the main industry in Algarve:
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/regional-innovation-monitor/base-profile/algarve-region-portugal-0

[4] True: ENI/Galp was given a licence to drill off the coast of Algarve:
http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/algarve-oil-drilling-approved/45624

[5] Can the author claim to speak on behalf of the 'will of the population'? In this case, yes: There was a public consultation about the need of an impact assessment study. 100% of the public consultation, or 42,000 people, required the study, which eventually was NOT conducted by the environmental agency:
https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/petroleo-lpn-indignada-subscreve-receios-de-plataforma-algarve-livre-de-petroleo-9352627.html

- The final report can be downloaded here under "Relatório de Consulta Pública":
http://participa.pt/consulta.jsp?loadP=2160
- RTA, the governmental Touristic Region of Algarve, also opposed to the drilling without the impact assessment study:
https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/petroleo-avanco-do-furo-sem-estudo-poe-em-risco-habitantes-do-algarve---turismo-9351924.html
- 16 cities within the region protested against the drilling permits:
https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/municipios-do-algarve-criticam-governo-e-pedem-fim-da-prospecao-de-petroleo-9110491.html

[6] True: The government issued the permits without environmental impact study:
https://algarvedailynews.com/news/14246-no-environment-impact-assessment-needed-oil-drilling-to-go-ahead-off-aljezu

[7] True: Algarve and Lisbon are the highest earthquake risk areas in Portugal:
http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/new-study-shows-algarve-and-lisbon-are-most-prone-to-earthquakes-as-small-tremor-hits-faro/40939
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