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Evaluating Information and Avoiding Fake News

How to Spot Fake News. 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 wholes 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 actually supports 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 judgement. Ask the Experts – Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site. Source: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Triangulating evidence to fact check breaking stories.

Image result for Triangulate for news

When an event breaks choose at least three trustworthy professional outlets for journalism. The BBC, Washington Post, and New York Times all follow strict Journalism Code of Ethics. Look up the reporting on the event in three sites to see what evidence is repeated in each. For further vetting, wait twenty four hours after the event and repeat the triangulating exercise.

When evaluating sources, keep these definitions in mind. If you find yourself gravitating to bias sources that agree with your hypothesis, opinion, and/or belief, this is a red flag to seek out objective information in order to research your topic holistically. Who knows? Your original opinion might be wrong!


The following definitions will help students in assessing viewpoint.

BulletBias: Prejudice or preconceived notion that causes a person to favor one person or side of the debate over another. In other words, a bending of facts, cherry-picking of facts, or a complete fabrication of information in order to fit a preconceived narrative.

BulletConfirmation bias: When conducting research, this is your natural inclination to give more weight to information and arguments that agree with your own original opinions and/or beliefs.

BulletModerate: Holding views that are neither excessive nor extreme.

BulletNeutral: Not aligned with any side in a controversy, or with a particular political or ideological group.

BulletObjective: Without bias. An objective position aims to be based on fact, rather than on personal feelings or prejudices.

BulletSubjective: With bias or preconceived views. A subjective opinion is more affected by personal viewpoint or experiences than by fact.