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Fact Checking the News: DIY: Spotting Unreliable Information

Deteching Fake News

Regardless of where you find information (website, social media, newspaper, etc.) the criteria for reliablity is the same:

Is your source authoritative on this topic?  (i.e. question authority)

  • Is there an author or sponsoring organization?  Credible sources will identify themselves.
  • Does the person or organization present credentials or other proof of  expertise that is relevant to the subject
  • Can you verify the information provided about the author or organization through outside sources such as a journal article, newspaper article or reputable website? Use the Multi-Search box on the library homepage to verify.  Multi-Search is preferable to Google for verification, since it doesn't contain fake sources that could mislead you.
  • Is the author/organization qualified to speak on the topic?
  • Does the URL domain name look dubious? Can you tell what organization, institution or company hosts the site?
  • Do other webpages link to this website and are those webpages reliable?


Is the information reliable and substantial?

  • Does the site contain useful research-based information, or only opinions?
  • Does the research go into significant depth?
  • Are facts or statements footnoted where necessary?
  • Can you verify the footnotes and corroborate facts or statistics using a reputable source?
  • Is the information unbiased or does it take a particular position?
  • If a position is taken, is it advocated in a rational, reasonable manner, providing supporting, verifiable evidence?
  • Is supporting evidence used in an accurate, unbiased manner?
  • Does the site use manipulative techniques to influence readers? If so, what are they?
  • Does the site link to other reliable, reputable sources of information?
  • If it does link to reliable sources, is it using these sources in a fair and reliable manner?
  • Can you discern the purpose of the site or webpage? 


Are the links and information current?

  • When was the site last updated?
  • Are all the pages on the website up to date?
  • Does the information appear to be current?
  • Are all the links 'live'? Have some of the links moved to a new URL?