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Online Library Orientation: Evaluating Sources & Fake News

This LibGuide offers general information about the HCC Libraries, library services, and resources available for research.

Website Evaluation Tools

Think carefully about the sources you are finding and using. Here are some tools that can help:

Currency - How recent is the information?

Reliability - What kind of information is included in the resource? Is it balanced? Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority - Who is the creator or author? Who is the publisher or sponsor? What is the author's or publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

Accuracy - Is the content readable? Is the content truthful? Is the content correct?

  • Purpose/Point of View - Is this fact or opinion? Is the creator/author trying to sell you something; persuade you about something?

How To Spot Fake News

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8 Steps

Consider the Source

Some fictional and satirical news sites provide disclaimers, like The Onion, which is well-known for being fake and acknowledges being satirical in their About page. But others aren't so forthright, and you'll have to investigate. Check Snopes.com to see if they've disbunked the source you're considering using.

Read Beyond the Headline

If a click-bait headline got your attention, make sure to read the entire article before assuming the headline is accurate and true.

Check the Author

Is the author a real person? Are their credentials accurate? Do a quick search to make sure they're real and credible.

What's the Support?

Sometimes fake articles cite official-sounding sources, but click the links or do a quick search on those. Make sure they're real, and if they are, that they actually support the article's claims.

Check the Date

Some fake or dishonest articles recycle real events but claim they happened more recently or earlier than they actually did, which changes the entire context of the subject matter.

Is It a Joke?

Remember that satire is very popular, especially online. Before you believe what you read, even if it's subtle satire and looks official at first glance, take a moment to really check it out.

Check Your Biases

This one is difficult, but recognize that confirmation bias will inherently make you more likely to believe things that support your own beliefs and opinions. Even if you're predisposed to believe it, check it out, too.

Consult the Experts

If you're still not sure, try checking Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, the Washington Post Fact Checker, or PolitiFact.com to see if something's been debunked.