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Misinformation, Disinformation, and Fact-Checking

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Fact-Checking

Fact Check It!

DIY Fact-Checking

On Facebook, Google, and in other corners of the online world, false stories are being posted, shared, and believed. Everyone should be concerned over the spread of this "fake news" and all types of misinformation.  Given our modern-day information overload, each of us must know how to recognize trustworthy news sources while critically evaluating the many forms of information that we see on a daily basis.

Consider these elements when reading stories on the web (social media, Google results, news websites etc.):

  1. Is the headline in ALL CAPS and do the pics look altered? If yes, it is probably fake.
  2. Does the headline seem designed to cause anger?
  3. Read past the headline - is there anything of substance?
  4. Which news outlet published it and/or who is the author?
  5. For websites, what is the domain? Fake websites often add “.co” (example:
  6. What quotes from experts, links or other sources does the story use as evidence for its claims?
  7. What is the publish date and time?
  8. Beware of confirmation bias and other forms of cognitive bias.
  9. When in doubt, Do Not Share.

Fact-Checking Tools

How Professional Fact-Checking Works

News outlets will lean in certain political directions (in published editorials, for example) while still attempting to present facts as objectively as possible - this is described as "media bias."

image of a marked up page from The AtlanticMedia bias is not equivalent to publishing false or misleading information. News outlets will get into serious legal trouble (libel) if they publish lies or make up stories, and reliable, reputable news organizations vet their stories through a rigorous fact-checking process.

For an interesting look at professional fact-checking, have a look at How to Fact Check The Atlantic (below). The image on the right is a visual example from The Atlantic of the professional fact-checking process.


Be Careful: Examples of Fake News & Misleading Websites