The Internet makes it incredibly easy to spread false or misleading information. A healthy dose of skepticism is in order regarding anything you may read online. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions recommends these steps for spotting false or misleading news:
- Consider the source. Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
- Check the author. Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
- Check the date. Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events.
- Check your biases. Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.
- Read beyond. Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What’s the whole story?
- Supporting sources? Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story.
- Is is a joke? If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
- Ask the experts. Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site, such as one of these:
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.
Debunks political claims and viral fake news.
Debunks trending hoaxes and false information.
Media Bias/Fact Check
Check the truthfulness and bias of any news source.
Non-partisan fact-checking site from the nonprofit Poynter Institute focusing on political claims made in the U.S., including statements from politicians and general political news.
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”.
Spinoff of FactCheck.org focusing “exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy”.
One of the oldest fact-checking sites, focusing on news stories, urban legends and memes.
Long-running fact-checking site, focusing on “eRumors, fake news, disinformation, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email”.