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Evaluating Websites

Evaluating News Sources

Fake news is nothing new. But thanks to social media and online news sources, fake news can travel much more quickly and reach many more people than ever before.

Being able to evaluate the validity of news sources is an important skill for everyone to have - and one that you will use for the rest of your life. On this page, you'll find some tips for how to evaluate online news. 

This image has been borrowed from the Indiana University East Library, for educational purposes only. It has been modified from its original version. 

Red Flags

Listed below are a number of red flags that you should keep an eye out for when reading online news:

  • "This is NOT A HOAX!"
    • You should always be skeptical of any news source that implores you to believe that it is not false.
  • Excessive exclamation points
    • A professional author who is writing a true story does not need to underscore their arguments with multiple exclamation points.
  • Anonymous Author
    • If the author is writing a true story, why would they not want to put their name on it?
  • Spelling Errors
    • Spelling errors always point to greater errors in content - if the news contains a lot of spelling errors, it probably did not go through a strong review process, which detracts from the article's credibility.

Red Flags taken from FactCheck.org's article on how to spot fake email chains. (2014) 

Resources to Help You Check Facts

Questions to Ask

  1. How does this article want me to feel? Is it trying to appeal to my emotions? What kind of language is being used?
  2. Does this article provide evidence for its claims and provide citations for good sources?
    • Do the links provided in the article send you to reputable journals, well-researched publications, or statistical sites?
  3. Does the article use sensationalist phrasing, or have a sensationalist title meant to draw people in? 
  4. Are other reputable and well-known sources reporting the same news?

 

Some of the images, ideas, and links on this page have been borrowed from the Indiana University East Library's Fake News Guide for educational purposes only and have been modified from their original versions. This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.