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Fake News: Evaluating Information

How to Spot a Fake Twitter Post

Check the account history of the source. Two red flags are: the number of posts and how long the account has been active. If it claims to be a well know source (like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history that is a clue. If it's a well know source and the account has only been active a short time that is another red flag.

Images of an event are often reused to deceive people. You can check if an image has been used before on a reverse image search service like TinEye.

Use the CRAAP Test

With resources like Google at our fingertips, information isn't hard to find. What is challenging is determining whether that information is credible and can be trusted. Is it factual? Biased? Relevant to your topic?

A Google search is often our first stop to gain a basic understanding of the main ideas about a topic, but since anyone with access to a computer can publish anything online, it is crucial that you evaluate the information you find, especially when completing a research paper, or looking for important information (like health or financial information).

Web sources can be particularly hard to evaluate, so here is a handy acronym to help you determine if a source may be CRAAP.

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

  •      examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government), 
                   .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?