Information is everywhere and sometimes it can be difficult to judge how accurate or reliable information is.
Always try to STOP, THINK, CHECK that what you are seeing, reading or hearing is accurate and reliable.
You should be able to critically select, evaluate and understand information you find online. That means recognising the difference between real and fake news.
Use the following criteria to evaluate a source:
Currency: is the information current? When was it last updated?
Relevance: is the information important to your research needs? Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this one?
Authority: who is the author/publisher/sponsor of the news? Do they have authority on the subject?
Accuracy: Is the information supported by evidence? Does the author cite credible sources? Is the information verifiable in other places?
Purpose: What is the purpose of this news? To inform? To sell? This can give you clues about bias.
Not all news sources are reliable or trustworthy. Many claim to be news sources but are really entertainment sites driven by advertisements and clicks. As a researcher and consumer of news, it is your responsibility to evaluate the news sources you wish to use/cite.
If you found out something via social media, you should take a few seconds to Google it! More often than not, a Google search will quickly show you if other reputable news sites are reporting on the same thing or if a fact-check website has already debunked the claim.
Click the links: Much like citations in a research paper, links are supposed to provide clear evidence that supports the claims a journalist makes. When you see a link, click it to see if it really supports what the writer had to say. Also, see if it links to an outside source or if it’s linking to another post or piece by the same author.
One of the best ways to determine accuracy is to use multiple sources - the more sources you review, the more likely you are to come to an accurate conclusion.
Don’t use information in an assignment, broadcast it on social media, or tweet it in a way that suggests it’s true if you suspect that it is not. Nothing eradicates fake news faster than scepticism and a commitment to quality information.
Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and the contact information.
Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
Re-posting old news stories doesn't mean they're relevant to current trends.
Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.
Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks. What's the whole story?
Click on those links. Determine if the information given actually supports the story.
If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.
Source: IFLA (2016). How To Spot Fake News. Available from: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174.