Ever stumbled upon an article that reads flawlessly, packed with information, yet leaves a nagging doubt in your mind? 

Nowadays, it is very much possible that that article was written by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI writing tools are rapidly evolving, churning out content at an impressive pace. But with this convenience comes a crucial responsibility: fact-checking.

Think of AI as a powerful research assistant. It can scan vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and even generate human-quality text. However, AI models are only as good as the information they're trained on. 

Just like the saying goes, "garbage in, garbage out" applies here. Outdated data, misinterpreted information, or even gaps in knowledge can lead to inaccurate AI-written content that could negatively affect your credibility, user experience, and revenue potential.

This doesn't mean you should ditch AI writing altogether. It simply means you need to develop a healthy dose of skepticism and equip yourself with fact-checking skills. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to ensure the information you consume, even if generated by AI, is accurate and reliable.

Identifying claims and potential issues in AI-written content

The first step is understanding what kind of claims AI content might generate. AI can weave factual statements into narratives, recount historical events, or even present statistics. 

But here's the catch:

  • Outdated Information: AI models are trained on massive datasets, but those datasets aren't always up-to-date. A groundbreaking scientific discovery made last year might not be reflected in the model's knowledge base.
  • Nuance and Humor: Sarcasm, irony, and other subtleties of human language can trip up AI. It might misinterpret a satirical article as a factual one, leading to inaccuracies.
  • Filling the Gaps: AI can struggle with gaps in its knowledge. To maintain coherence, it might fabricate details or embellish existing information.

Here are some examples of common errors to watch out for depending on the content type:

  • Science articles: Look out for outdated research or misinterpretations of complex scientific concepts.
  • Historical content: Double-check dates, figures, and event details, especially for lesser-known historical periods.
  • Statistical data: Verify the source of the data and ensure it's presented accurately and in context.

Step-by-step fact-checking process


Now that you know what to look for, let's dive into the fact-checking process.

When fact-checking AI-generated content, you can use the following checklist to go about it step-by-step:

1. Source verification: The foundation of trust

Imagine reading an article that claims a revolutionary new invention has changed the world. 

Sounds exciting, right? 

But wait! Where's the source of this information? 

Source verification is the cornerstone of fact-checking. 

Here are some simple tips for identifying reliable sources:

  • Look for Established Names: Look for author affiliations with reputable universities, research institutions, or well-known news outlets. These organizations have editorial processes in place to ensure accuracy.
  • Check Credentials and Dates: Research the author's expertise and the publication date of the source material. Outdated articles might not reflect current knowledge.
  • Website Evaluation Tools: Tools like Broken Link Checker can help assess a website's reliability. They analyze factors like website age, broken links, and user reviews. While these tools offer insights, remember they're not foolproof.

2. Cross-referencing and triangulation: Don't put all your eggs in one basket

Just because a source sounds credible doesn't mean it's the ultimate truth. Here's where cross-referencing comes in. 

Find multiple credible sources that support the same information. This strengthens the validity of the claim. Think of it like triangulation in navigation. By using multiple reference points, you get a clearer picture of the information's accuracy.

Here are some tips for finding multiple sources:

  • Use advanced search operators like quotation marks to find specific phrases mentioned in the AI-written content.
  • Exclude the original source from your search using the "site: (website URL)" operator. This helps you find independent verification.

3. Fact-checking tools and techniques: Your digital toolkit

The internet is a treasure trove of fact-checking resources. Here are a few handy tools:

  • Fact-Checking Websites: Websites like Snopes and PolitiFact are dedicated to debunking misinformation and verifying claims.
  • Search Operators: Mastering search operators like quotation marks and site exclusion can refine your searches and lead you to trustworthy sources.
  • Data Analysis Tools (Optional):For data-heavy content, especially statistics, consider using online data analysis tools. Here are a couple of options:
    • Google Sheets: This free and accessible spreadsheet tool offers basic data analysis functions like sorting, filtering, and creating charts. You can import data from various sources and use formulas to identify trends or inconsistencies.
    • Excel: For more advanced users, Microsoft Excel provides a wider range of data analysis tools. Pivot tables, data validation features, and integration with other Microsoft products can streamline the fact-checking process for complex datasets.

Important Considerations:

  • Data Source Transparency: Always ensure the data source behind the statistics in the AI-written content is clearly referenced.
  • Understanding Statistical Methods: Before diving into data analysis, have a basic grasp of the statistical methods used in the content (e.g., averages, percentages). This will help you interpret the data accurately.

Red flags and warning signs

Even the most sophisticated AI can generate content with factual inaccuracies. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Vague or Overly Broad Statements: Beware of statements that lack specifics or concrete details. Factual information is usually precise and verifiable.
  • Lack of Citations or Sources: If the AI-written content doesn't provide any citations or references, it's a major red flag. Reputable information is always backed by credible sources. Sometimes, AI tools are unable to accurately link to sources (especially ChatGPT), but you should still be easily able to search and find those sources on Google. We have noticed that Microsoft CoPilot does the best job of finding and presenting links to primary sources and studies for citation.
  • Sensational or Emotionally Charged Language: Be wary of content that relies heavily on sensational headlines or emotionally charged language. Factual information is presented objectively, avoiding manipulation.
  • Inconsistencies in Data or Timelines: Look out for inconsistencies in data or timelines. For example, if statistics don't match across different sources, or historical events are presented in the wrong order, it's a sign to investigate further.

What to do when you encounter red flags

When you encounter these red flags, don't panic. Here's how to approach them:

  • Investigate Further: Use the fact-checking techniques mentioned earlier to delve deeper and verify the information yourself.
  • Remove the Information: If you're unsure about the accuracy of a particular piece of information, it's best to remove it from your AI-written content.

Remember, accuracy is paramount. Don't hesitate to discard information if you can't verify it.

Conclusion: Cultivating a healthy dose of skepticism

In today's information age, where AI-generated content is increasingly prevalent, developing a healthy dose of skepticism is crucial. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure the information you consume, regardless of its source, is accurate and reliable.

Have you encountered AI-written content before? 

Share your experiences with fact-checking in the comments below! 

Do you have any questions about the techniques mentioned in this guide? Feel free to ask, and let's build a community of informed readers together.