The internet exploded freedom of expression. Never before has so many people been given a voice that can reach billions of eyes just through a simple online post.
The unexpected side effect of that freedom is sifting through the tons of content to find what is true. When anyone and everyone can post a “fact” online, how can we trust what is true and what is misinformation?
First and foremost, take everything (and we mean everything) online with a grain of salt. A little skepticism can take you a long way when evaluating the authenticity of information.
Not all websites are created equal. They differ in quality, purpose, and bias. Some content was made to be entertaining, not informative (The Onion is a perfect example of this). There’s sponsored content and old, outdated information out there too.
After you have your healthy skepticism spectacles on, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get fact-checkin’. That’s right. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. How do you do that?
Here are various tips on how to fact-check and verify the information you’re looking at is trustworthy:
- Pay attention to the domain and URL. Established news organizations usually have their own domains
- Read the “About Us” section. Straightforward language about the organization’s leadership, mission, ethics statement is a good sign.
- Look at the quotes in a story and who said them. Quotes can be outright faked. Search them to verify them. Also check if the quote is not distorted out of context.
- Check the comments. If many people are calling this article fake, it’s most likely true.
- Reverse image search. People who write fake stories are not taking their own photos either. Reverse image search to find the original source of the photos.