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Fake News: How to Fact Check

Fact Check Like a Pro

  1. Look at the domain and URL. 
    • ​Fake news websites use web spoofing to imitate the look and design of an established news outlet.
    • Avoid websites that end in "lo" (example: Newslo) and ".com.co" (example: Abc.com.co). 
  2. Read the "About Us" section. 
    • Who runs and invests in the organization? What are their ethics and mission statement?  
    • Look for clear and straightforward language rather than sensational or extravagant wording.
  3. Double check the quotes. 
    • Does the article quote a professional or academic in a related field? If a study is mentioned, look up the research. 
    • Quotes are taken out of context to support false claims. Look up the quote in the original interview, speech, etc. to verify the circumstances of the speaker.  
  4. Reverse image search. 
    • Fake news authors may steal or Photoshop images to mislead readers. Look up the original photograph to verify the original source.   
  5. Read multiple news outlets. 
    • Open a new browser tab and look up the topic of an article. If a web search circles back to the same few sources, it might not be true. Legitimate news stories can be found on widespread media sources.  

These tips are adapted from 'False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical "News" Sources' by Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College. 

"CRAAP" Test

Anyone with access to a computer can publish information online. The "CRAAP" Test helps you evaluate the information you find in print and online sources for inaccurate, out-of-date, or false information. If the information doesn't pass the test, you probably should not use it as a source.

Currency

  • When was it published/posted or last updated?
  • Do you need current information, or are older sources acceptable?

Relevance

  • Does it relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level?  Too advanced?  Too easy?

Authority

  • Who is the author, publisher, source, or sponsor?
  • What are their credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?

Accuracy

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has it been reviewed or refereed?

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial, free of emotion, and unbiased? 

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