News/Media Literacy and Fact-Checking: Fact-Checking and Prebunking
How to Use this Guide
This site is intended to help you understand and address mis- and disinformation and improve your own information consumption habits.This Fact-Checking page provides easy-to-use steps to determine the quality and validity of information online. And stay up-to-date on the latest research and expert opinions on our Additional Readings page. You can also explore these pages using our guide menu to the left (or above on a mobile device).
Overview of Fact-Checking Skills
Prebunking Videos From Inoculation Science
Online Verification Skills with Mike Caulfield
Fact-Checking as a Means of Combating Inaccurate or Misleading News
Want to make sure your information is accurate? Take these steps.
Click on the links for more information about each step.
- Check your emotions
- Why? Because you’re already likely to check things you know are important to get right, and you’re predisposed to analyze things that put you an intellectual frame of mind. But things that make you angry or overjoyed, well… our record as humans are not good with these things.
- Check for previous work
- Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
- Go "upstream" to the source
- Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
- Read laterally
- Read laterally.Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
- Evaluate the source by thinking about the:
- Process: How was the information created and are there mechanisms in place for correcting errors?
- Expertise: Why is the author qualified to write on this topic? Is s/he an expert? Does the author had professional knowledge of the topic? Are other experts being interviewed for the source?
- Aim: What is the publication, author, or media source attempting to accomplish? In other words, what incentive do they have to get things right?
- Circle back
- If you get lost, or hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.
- Take action if needed
- Crowdsource efforts with the Digital Polarization Initiative
- Incorporate diverse sources and perspectives into your news diet
- Fact-check before you share
(from Caulfield's Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers)
Follow Some Media Literacy Experts On Twitter
Reusing this Guide
Please feel free to share this guide with others. If you are a librarian or teacher, you are welcome to use this guide and its contents for your own purposes. Much of the content in this guide was adapted from the Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers textbook by Mike Caulfield of Washington State University Vancouver.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please note that permission is not given for any part of this LibGuide to be used for any for-profit endeavors, including publication.
Online Fact-Checking Lessons and Games
- Bad News In Bad News, you take on the role of fake news-monger. Drop all pretense of ethics and choose a path that builds your persona as an unscrupulous media magnate. But keep an eye on your ‘followers’ and ‘credibility’ meters. Your task is to get as many followers as you can while slowly building up fake credibility as a news site. But watch out: you lose if you tell obvious lies or disappoint your supporters!
- Check, Please! Starter Course This course shows "you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework."
- SIFTing Through the Outbreak Mike Caulfield helps you sort through online information on the current COVID-19 outbreak
- Harmony Square "Welcome to the idyllic Harmony Square, a small neighborhood mildly obsessed with democracy. You are hired as Chief Disinformation Officer. Over the course of 4 short levels, your job is to disturb the square’s peace and quiet by fomenting internal divisions and pitting its residents against each other."
- Go Viral! Go Viral! is a 5-minute game about COVID-19 misinformation. Over the course of three levels, you slowly descend into an online echo chamber where misinformation proliferates widely, all the while learning about some of the most common strategies used to spread false and misleading information about the virus.
- Rumor Guard NLP created RumorGuard to help us all learn how to recognize misinformation and stop it in its tracks. Each fact-checked viral rumor contains concrete tips to help you build your news literacy foundation and confidently evaluate claims you see online.
- You Can Know Things Kristen Panthagani, MD, PhD, founded You Can Know Things to help explain the science of the pandemic in a way everybody can understand, with an emphasis on addressing confusing pandemic topics and rumors.
Need Help Verifying Info?
- Verification Toolbox"A toolbox designed to help simplify and streamline verification for beginners" - from First Draft News