What You Can Do

There are a few things we can do to identify misinformation:

  • Before You Share…slow down and read the entire article, not just the headline.
  • Ask... is the information current? Is this an older article that’s been resurrected?
  • Is it satire? A joke?
  • Does the domain or URL look reputable? Remember the “.com .co suffix”
  • Who is the author/publisher? Are they reputable? Review at the “About Us” section.
  • Is the headline congruent with the body of the article?
  • Do the images/graphics match the article? Has the image been altered?
  • Look for other incidents of the pictures:
    • Do a Google image search in a Google Chrome browser
    • Right-click on the image in question, in the pop-up menu, scroll down and select "Search Google for Image"
    • Take your time going through the results to confirm that the picture in question 
  • Who else is reporting on the incident/issue/event? What are they saying? Do a web search for the story, are other news sites carrying the story? Is their coverage similar?
  • How does it fit with what you know? Check it against your own beliefs and biases, remember the “echo chamber.”
  • Ask an expert (for instance, call or come to the Library).
  • Remember that political content is the perfect breeding ground for fake news because people are invested in their political allegiances. Folks react emotionally and share quickly, increasing polarization. Pay close attention to political content, especially around election times.

Know Your Vocabulary

  • Clickbait - something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.
  • Echo Chamber – An environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered. 
  • Filter Bubble - a situation in which someone only hears or sees news and information that supports what they already believe and like, especially a situation created on the internet as a result of algorithms (sets of rules) that choose the results of someone's searches. 
  • Information Literacy - information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information.” To be information literate, one needs skills not only in research but in critical thinking.
  • Net Neutrality - Net neutrality is a network design paradigm that argues for broadband network providers to be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks.  In essence, it argues that no bit of information should be prioritized over another. 
  • Troll - To antagonize others online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant or offensive comments or other disruptive content. To harass, criticize or antagonize someone especially by disparaging or mocking statements, postings, or acts.

Just The Facts: Fact-Checking Sites

  • Snopes.com - Usually the first to have information for truth-seekers
  • Politifact.com - From the Tampa Bay Times, an independent Florida newspaper with a truth-o-meter
  • Opensecrets.org - From Center for Responsive Politics, non-profit, nonpartisan, great information on finances in politics
  • Factcheck.org - From Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, journalists and information scientists monitor the accuracy of statements made in and about US politics

Other Online Resources

  • John Green's Crash Course Video: Navigating digital information
  • Allsides.com - Exposes people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other.
  • GCFLearnFree.org - A self paced course about 21st century digital media literacy. A program of the Goodwill Community Foundation® and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina Inc.® (GIENC®).
  • Readacrosstheaisle.com - A "FitBit for your filter bubble" that encourages more balanced news consumption by keeping track of the political bend of the articles you read. Available as an app and a Google Chrome extension. Includes free guest access to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Verification Handbook: An Ultimate Guideline on Digital Age Sourcing for Emergency Coverage - A handbook "for journalists and aid responders, which provides step-by-step guidelines for using user-generated content (UGC) during emergencies." and "prescribes best practice advice on how to verify and use this information provided by the crowd, as well as actionable advice to facilitate disaster preparedness in newsrooms." Check out Chapter 10: Verification Tools (p. 108)
  • Olympic College Resource Guide on Fake News and Fact-Checking
  • National Public Radio - With an election on the horizon, older adults get help spotting fake news