This guide provides information, tools and tips on identifying and avoiding misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.
Visit the Evaluating News Resources Workshop Room for an interactive session based on this guide.
If you are interested in a workshop on the topic, please contact me.
Evaluating News Sources
Currency: Is this a recent article? Does the date affect the content or context? Some articles shared on social media can be older articles that may relate to current events, but not have current or accurate information. If the article is not recent, the claims may no longer be relevant or have been proven wrong.
Relevance: Is the article relevant? It is useful? Does it fill your information need? While some articles may appear to be addressing a current topic, you must read past the headline and determine the relevancy of the content for your purposes. Be aware of click bait.
Authority: Who is the author? Has the author written other articles on the same or similar topic? Have they demonstrated expertise and experience? What is the source? Does it have an agenda or bias? Well known does not always mean authoritative and decisions and understanding of authority can itself be biased and leave out important voices, so you need to do the research.
Accuracy: Can the content be verified by multiple sources? Is it factual? Are you aware of and do you understand the sources biases? Be skeptical of articles only appearing in one place that you are unable to confirm. What is the original source of the story? This is particularly important with images that are shared widely across social media.
Purpose: Does this article provoke an emotional response? The intent of a valid news sources is to inform. While an emotional response to specific information is to be expected, inaccurate news articles are often written for the sole purpose of provoking anger, outrage, fear, happiness, excitement or confirmation of ones' own beliefs.
Adapted from : Meriam Library, California State University https://library.csuchico.edu/sites/default/files/craap-test.pdf
It is vital to understand the types of fake news that exist in order to understand and combat them.
Fact Checking Sites
Use these sites to look up stories and information in order to help verify and understand the type of information being shared. They are well researched and resourced and can and should be trusted.
Consistency and Bias
It is important to understand bias in information and be aware of one's own confirmation bias. These sites provide information on the bias of sources as well as suggested ways to get information outside of one's own bubble. While bias is important to understand and must be taken into account when evaluating sources, even more important is a source's consistency in providing factual, verifiable, documented and well sourced information. These websites also evaluate sources on their record of providing this type of well researched and verified information.
Fact Checking - Specific to Politics and Elections
These websites fact check and provide information specific to politics, politicians and elections. They are especially important for finding facts and information for making informed decisions on voting.
Reverse Image Searching
A quick an easy way to validate information is to research the images that accompany it. An out of context or faked/photo-shopped image will immediately indicate that the information could be misleading or false. Reverse image searching is also useful in tracking where an image or story originated in order to better understand the information and intent. Use these sites to verify all images to determine they have not been faked or manipulated or taken out of context.
BEFORE YOU SHARE
A bit about CLICKBAIT. Every time a story is clicked on, money is made. It doesn't matter if it is accurate or authoritative- YOU must determine those qualities before you share or click.
EMOTION: What emoji does it make you want to use? Misinformation, disinformation and propaganda are all designed specifically to elicit a strong emotional response. Check your confirmation bias, approach with informed skepticism.
VERIFY: Are there links to other sources to back up the facts? Does the information appear on other news sites? Can you find the original source of a story or image shared widely on social media? Can it be verified by fact checking websites?
AUTHORS: Google the author. What else have they the written? Find information to determine authority.
SOURCE: Check the URL. What is the source's intent? Links to other sources? Reverse Google search images that accompany the article. Verify embedded videos and tweets.
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