Evaluating Information

Fact Checking Tools and Tips

Step by Step to Spot Fake News

  1. Check the domain name. Does it look strange? Those ending unusual domains such as “.com.co” are fake news.
  2. Refer to the ‘About Us’ area on a website to see what it says, or refer to the websites above for more information on the story or source.
  3. Read multiple news sources to see how (or if) they are reporting on the same story.

These three steps were adapted from Merrimack College professor Melissa Zimdars’ work with OpenSources.co (see summary)

• Who wrote the page and can you contact him or her?
• Why was this document produced?
• Is this person qualified to write this document?
• Know the difference between author and Webmaster.
• Make sure the author provides an e-mail, address and/or phone number.
• Who published the document and is the publisher different than the "Webmaster?"
• Did an organization or institution publish this document? A business? A university?
• What qualifications are listed for the author or authors? (e.g.: university degree, title, etc.)
• Where is the document published? Check the URL domain in the search bar for clues.
• What are the goals of this web page? To inform? To persuade? To entertain? To sell?
• How detailed is the information?
• What opinions, if any, are presented by the author?
• Is the webpage used for advertising? If it is, how might the information be biased?
• View any web page as you would a commercial on television. Ask yourself, “Why was this written and for whom?”
• When was the web page produced?
• When was the web page last updated?
• Are there any links that don’t work on the web page? How many?
• In the URL, a tilde ~ usually indicates a personal web directory rather than being part of the organization's official web site.
• Check the header and footer of the web page to find the author and publisher.
• In order to verify an author's credentials, you may need to consult other sources as well.
• Check and compare the web site to others which are both similar and different.
Queen's University CRAAP Guide to Evaluating InformationUBC librarians' tips for evaluating information on the Internet
Bedford/St. Martin's tips for evaluating sourcesCornell University Libraries Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

Think about online information

Twenty websites that may or may not help you find good information on their subjects.

1All About Explorers
2Feline Reactions to Bearded Men
3California’s Velcro Crop Under Challenge
4The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
5BBC: Spaghetti Harvest in Ticino
6Moonbeam Enterprises
7Department Of Health And Human Services Recommends Standing At Least Once A Day
8Community Hero: William Kamkwamba
9Homeless World Cup
10City of Elephant Butte
11Scotland to Switch to Driving on the Right if Independence Given Green Light
12Right Livelihood Award: Cumhuriyet
13One Laptop Per Child
14Story of Stuff
15Ova Prima Foundation
16BBC: Penguins Fly to Warmer Amazon
17Republic of Molossia
18Male Pregnancy
19Aluminum Foil Detector Beanie
20Google's Mentalplex Searching

Critical Media Commentary

The fake war on fake newsSarah Kendzior, The Globe and Mail, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 12:08PM EST

Here’s why Trump’s attacks on ‘fake news’ succeed. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, Friday, February 17th, 2017.

We tracked down a fake-news creator in the suburbs. Here’s what we learned. Laura Sydel, National Public Radio (NPR), November 23, 20163:31 PM ET

The term ‘fake news’ is quickly losing meaning in the Trump eraTabatha Southey, The Globe and Mail, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 11:59AM EST

“Civil Discourse” Threatened: Globe and Mail Takes a New Approach to Moderating Online Comments:

We are introducing a new way of commenting on the site by asking you, our reader, to help moderate the civility of conversations. Our goal at The Globe and Mail is to foster intelligent, insightful and entertaining conversations. We encourage vigorous debate and passionate opinions, especially when backed up by facts and context. For more information on our commenting policies, please see our or read our full .

Fake News, Libraries and Librarians

“Most middle-school students were able to distinguish advertisements from news stories, but more than 80 percent confused native advertisements with news stories. Native advertisements are designed to look like news stories, but they carry a label that sets them apart, usually “sponsored content.” That wasn’t enough.

“There is a great need for more education in the critical-thinking skills that are part of information literacy.”