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Evaluating Information

Learn the tools you need for evaluating information sources.

How to Fact-Check

When trying to decide whether or not you can trust information found online - no matter what type of information it is - always ask yourself:

  1. Who is behind the information?
  2. What's the evidence for their claims?
  3. What do other sources say about the organization (or author) and its claims?

These are the same questions used by professional fact checkers. Watch the video below, which is part of the Crash Course series titled Navigating Digital Information, to find out how they do it. 

4 Moves and a Habit

When you see a claim that may not be 100% true, there are four steps, called "moves," you can take to fact-check the claim. If you successfully confirm a fact at any stage, you can stop - it's not always necessary to complete all four moves.

Four Fact-Checking Moves

  1. Check for Previous Work: 
    Look to see if someone has already fact-checked the claim or summarized the research.
  2. Go "Upstream" to the Source: 
    Find the original source of the claim to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  3. Read Laterally: 
    Read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  4. Circle Back: 
    If you get lost or find yourself going down a rabbit hole, back up and start over. Now that you know more, you will probably find a different path with new search terms and more informed decisions.


One Habit: Check Your EmotionsEmotions Icon

In addition to the fact-checking moves, you should get into the habit of checking your emotions. When you feel strong emotion – happiness, anger, pride, vindication – in response to a claim, STOP. Above all, these are the claims that you must fact-check.

Why check your emotions?

As human beings, our emotions tend to override our ability to reason. It's important to learn to recognize when this is happening, so you can approach important issues with a more analytical frame of mind. 


Learn more!

Fact-Checking Websites