News, fake news and "alternative facts": ​tips for evaluating information

Do you read Facebook or Twitter for news? Subscribe to a newspaper? Peruse websites? In an era of so many choices for information, how do you make a judgement about what's fact, what's slanted and what's just completely untrue? 

Here are some tips for evaluating what you are reading, listening to or viewing.  

  1. Consider the source. You can learn more about a website by clicking on the "About Us" link  that most provide, but don't stop there. Research the organization or author's credentials. If statistics are cited, see if you can find the source, and double-check that they are represented correctly.  
  2. Read beyond attention-getting headlines to check the whole article. If a statement is made, is a source given? Click through to check the sources, and do your own searching on those citations.
  3. Check the date. Sometimes old news stories resurface, and they might be out of date or inaccurate. If currency is important, limit your search to recent results
  4. Watch for bias, including your own. Check different sources to see how each treats a news item. Consider your own beliefs and perspectives and think about how that might change how you perceive what you are seeing. 
  5. Too weird to be true? If something seems implausible, see what fact-checking sites like Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck have to say. 

For more about being a smart information consumer, check out the infographic, "How to Spot Fake News", provided by The International Federation of Library Associations. If you're more of a visual learner, take a look at the CRAAP test video from librarians at California State University. Intrigued by the topic? Attend an upcoming event on misinformation and political propaganda

And remember, if you're looking for reliable information, get in touch with us. We're always happy to help.

 

Comments

There is a web site that lets you "see issues and political news with news bias revealed. Non-partisan, crowd-sourced technology shows all sides so you can decide." It is http://www.allsides.com/
The biggest purveyor of fake news, lies, and propaganda is the US Government and the mainstream media.
Allsides.com is a great source for multiple perspectives on a given issue.
It's hard to make sense of what we see and hear lately, and particularly what our kids may be seeing and hearing. Most important to me is that we try to remain level headed in a very heated world, and committed to principles of logic when evaluating arguments. Emotional arguments are fine, as long as they are recognized as emotional and use I statements, but they should also be specific, and use examples ("I feel like the New York Times doesn't represent my belief system because I live as close to old testament biblical values as I can....") rather than "the media is feeding us lies", which is not something that can be proven or disproven because it is using an ill-defined broad term "the media", and sites no specific examples that can even be investigated. Thanks for providing the fact checking sites. Cheers!

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