Political ads should pay to be fact-checked before they are run. A simple “truthiness” rating, from “confirmed facts” to “lawn fertilizer” to “toxic sludge” should be added to each ad, along with the rating agency’s identifier. Like the Surgeon General’s warning on cigarettes and alcohol, these scores would warn the public before they swallow the story.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other social-media leaders can easily put this into effect, and it won’t cost them a dime — they can pass the costs along to the politicians or organizations placing the ads.

There are tens of thousands of unemployed journalists all over the United States with the skills to research the statements and score the ads. They can provide the checks and balances that our public discourse so desperately needs, and be accountable for their accuracy.

If information comes out that is not scored, reader beware. No matter how amusing or outraging, delete it the same way you would throw out that half-melted Snickers bar dropped on a hot, dirty sidewalk. You don’t want your digital persona sickened by repeating it.

Betsy Braun, Seattle