There’s a lot on the Internet, including a lot of questionable stuff – that’s why the Internet Archive has taken it upon itself to make corrective information available for some archived web pages. In some cases, this may be background information to put misleading statements into context; in other cases, it may be fact checks to correct earlier misstatements. The Internet Archive presents its new project in a blog post.
Fact checks linked
As Mark Graham writes in his blog post, the Internet Archive has begun displaying links to such annotations on stored snapshots of a web page when a user of the Wayback Machine – the search engine used to browse the archive – stumbles upon a page in question. The respective archived web page remains unchanged, only a yellow highlighted note is displayed between the header with the search engine information and the snapshot of the web page.
Fact checks or background information about an archived web page will be displayed by the Wayback Machine with a yellow bar in the future.
This additional information comes partly from various fact-checking institutions and partly from the affected websites themselves, in case they later corrected or retracted their own representations with reasons.
Preserving digital history, adding context
Graham emphasizes that the intention is to continue to preserve ‘digital history’, but that he is also aware of the problem of providing access to false or misleading statements from a wide variety of sources. By providing links to further information, they hope to give users of the Wayback Machine more context to better understand the content.
The blog post cites three examples where contextual information is overlaid: For example, a link to Politifact’s fact-checkers, who used a statement in a CNN report on the debate over the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – including "Obamacare" a link to a report from Graphika, which includes a text on indymedia.uk exposed as part of a disinformation campaign; as well as a post on medium.com, which was retracted by the website itself because it violated the Covid 19 reporting rules.
The Internet Archive works with the following organizations to contextualize its archived content: FactCheck.org, Check Your Fact, Lead Stories, Politifact, Washington Post Fact-Checker, AP News Fact Check, USA Today Fact Check, Graphika, Stanford Internet Observatory and Our.news. The blog post does not specify the extent of the links or the number of documents already viewed.