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Fact-Checking and Misinformation

Vet websites using fact checkers’ strategies (such as the SIFT method), and why you should do it.

S - Stop

As an introduction, please watch the following video [3:13], which discusses the results of a very interesting study of Stanford students, historians, and professional fact-checkers (Wineburg and McGrew). Which group do you think did the best job of identifying reliable sources?

Note: Turn on closed captions with the “CC” button or use the text transcript if you prefer to read.

When you initially encounter a source of information and start to read it—stop. Ask yourself whether you know and trust the author, publisher, publication, or website. If you don’t, use the other fact-checking moves that follow, to get a better sense of what you’re looking at. In other words, don’t read, share, or use the source in your research until you know what it is, and you can verify it is reliable.

This is a particularly important step, considering what we know about the attention economy—social media, news organizations, and other digital platforms purposely promote sensational, divisive, and outrage-inducing content that emotionally hijacks our attention in order to keep us “engaged” with their sites (clicking, liking, commenting, sharing). Stop and check your emotions before engaging!

Adaptation of "Introduction to College Research" by Walter D. Butler, Aloha Sargent, and Kelsey Smith is licensed under CC BY 4.0