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Analyzing and Fact Checking

Analyzing Information: The CRAAP Test

When you find information on the Web, you need to be especially careful about evaluating it. You will need to check whether it is reliable and appropriate for your school work.

Here's a quick guide for evaluating Internet resources.  

  Currency:

When was this site last updated?  Look at a few documents on the page—can you tell when they were written?

How important is this to your topic?

  Relevance:

What is this site about? Is it easy to tell?  What is the scope of coverage (broad, narrow, etc.)

Who do you think is the audience for this information?

  Authority:

What person or organization is responsible for this content?  What are his/hers/their credentials?

What makes the author(s) an authority on this subject?

  Accuracy:

Is the information on the page supported by evidence of some kind? Does the information include references to sources?  

Are there spelling, typographical, or grammatical errors?

  Purpose:

Who is the intended audience for this information? Is the site selling something, like a product or an idea?

Look for the site's mission statement or About page to evaluate the information's purpose.

Fact Checking

Source: Indiana University East

Spotting Fake News

How to spot fake news infographic

Source: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

Download Infographic

Tips from Professor Melissa Zimdars (Merrimack College)

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).

  • Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources 

  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.

  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.

  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.

  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).

  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.

  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.

  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.

  • If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals (doxing is searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent), it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news.

  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

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