Use this guide from The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions to sort out facts, weigh information, and become knowledgeable online and off.
- Consider the Source – Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission, and its contact info.
- Read Beyond – Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What’s the whole story?
- Check the Author – Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
- Supporting Sources – Click on those links. Determine if the info given is actually supporting the story.
- Check the Date – Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events.
- Is it a Joke? – If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
- Check Your Biases – Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.
- Ask the Experts – Ask a librarian or consult a fact-checking site.
Keep these sites handy to fact-check the news stories shared on your TV and social media feed or discussed in your social circles.
AllSides – Presents news stories on trending topics from sources identified as from the left, from the right, and from the center; provides bias ratings for hundreds of media outlets.
AP Fact Check – Presents fact-checking reports from the Associated Press, an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Factcheck – a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
Lead Stories – Debunks trending hoaxes and false information.
Media Bias/Fact Check – Check the truthfulness and bias of any news source.
Politifact – PolitiFact seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.
PundiFact – Spinoff of PolitiFact, dedicated to “checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media”.
SciCheck – Spinoff of FactCheck.org focusing “exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy”.
Snopes – Snopes.com’s fact-checking always documents sources so readers are empowered to do independent research and make up their own minds.
Truth or Fiction – Long-running fact-checking site, focusing on “rumors, fake news, disinformation, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email”.
Other ways to fact-check and avoid misleading information
- Who owns the website posting the information? – You can find out at either https://whois.domaintools.com or at https://whois.icann.org. Whenever someone registers a website address, they are required to enter their contact information. When you get to your WHOIS search, enter in the domain (the first part of the website URL).
- Use the CRAAP Test – Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, and Purpose
- Interrogate URLs – If you are seeing a slightly variant version of a well-known URL, do a little investigating.
- Be suspicious of pictures! – Not all photographs tell truth or unfiltered truth. Images are normally edited or process, but sometimes they are digitally manipulated. A Google reverse image search can help discover the source of an image and its possible variations.
- Test your judgment.
- Can you spot the fake news story?