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Fake News: What It Is, and How To Avoid It: Recognizing Fake News -- Evaluate

Evaluating Web Sites

The ACT UP Method (explained here)

A - author. Who wrote the resource? Who are they? Background information matters.

C - currency. When was this resource written? When was it published? Does this resource fit into the currency of your topic?

T - truth. How accurate is this information? Can you verify any of the claims in other sources? Are there typos and spelling mistakes?

U - unbiased. Is the information presented to sway the audience to a particular point of view? Resources unless otherwise stated should be impartial.

P - privilege. Check the privilege of the author(s). Are they the only folks who might write or publish on this topic? Who is missing in this conversation? Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you found. How are they described? What are the inherent biases?

Fact-checking Sites

Use fact-checking resources like these to help you determine whether what you read or hear is true. But keep in mind that even fact-checking websites should be examined critically. 

  • FactCheck.org
    Checks the accuracy of political statements, news, and claims. A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

  • LinkedIn
    This professional networking site can be used to check the qualifications and expertise of authors.

  • Media Bias / Fact Check
    Aims to call biased or deceptive news and media practices

  • PolitiFact
    Nonpartisan fact-checking website to sort out the truth in American politics. The site's "Truth-o-meter" helps separate "fact from fiction" in political statements, including advertisements, from races around the country.

  • The Poynter Institute / Fact-Checking Resources
    The world’s leading resource for journalists to engage and inform the public in democratic societies.

  • Snopes.com
    Since 1995 this site has been used to fact-check "urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation."

  • Washington Post Fact Checker
    Fact checks political and governmental topics.

Fake News -- What To Look For

This short video from Michigan State University is a good place to learn what types of things to look for when evaluating news and media sources.  It's worth watching in its entirety, but we've posted some tips below, too!

Michigan State's Quick Check

  1. Check the website name and domain.  Fake sites often have a .co in the domain.
  2. Spelling & Grammar.  Are there multiple errors or does it look professionally edited?
  3. Author Attribution: Is an author listed? Are there links to their profile and credentials? Anonymous articles generally should be avoided.
  4. Emotional Manipulation: Do you feel emotions by simply reading the headline?

Michigan State's Critical Thinking Check

  1. Statement of Ethics - Most reputable news sites have a Statement of Ethics.  View the New York Times Statement here
  2. Corrections - Again, reputable sites have a Corrections section or policy.  See USA Today's Corrections.
  3. Named Sources, Studies etc. - Does the article name a source or study for its information?
  4. Identify Editorials vs News - Reputable news sources clearly identify editorials, which as we know are just someone's opinion.
  5. Check A Reporter's Body of Work - Does the reporter have a large body of work? Do they generally cover the same topic(s), or do the topics seem to be random or erratic?
  6. Verify Information Using Multiple Sources: This is a good habit for all research.  Make sure you can find more than one reputable source reporting the same information.

Test Your Evaluation Skills