The top 10 items you retrieve from Google (or any search engine) will most accurately match your search terms, but should we pay attention to them? How can we get better at distinguishing fact from fiction and everything in-between? The SIFT method was designed to be 4 easy moves to help us analyze information to establish credibility of online media.
It’s about REcontextualizing. There’s a theme you'll see that runs through all of these moves: they are about reconstructing the necessary context to read, view, or listen to digital content effectively. In a vast majority of cases, these moves reestablish the context that the web so often strips away, allowing for more fruitful engagement with all digital information.
This reminds us to do two things:
If you don't know, then move on the following steps to figure out if the source and/or the claim/headline/report is trustworthy and factual. Throughout this process check your emotions and cognitive bias, and if you get overwhelmed take a second to remember your original purpose.
Investigate the Source
Investigate the expertise and agenda of the source to determine its significance and trustworthiness. Questions we might ask ourselves:
Who are the creators?
Is the information being conveyed reliable and substantial?
Is the information up to date?
Find Better Coverage
Sometimes when you investigate the source you'll find that the source is sufficient for your needs.
Sometimes we can't determine the reliability of the source. And most of the time we don't really care about the source at all. We just want to get an accurate story on the subject from somewhere.
When the initial source you encounter is low quality and you just care about the claim your best strategy might be to find a better source altogether.
Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media Back to Their Original Context
If your original source is questionable, trace claims, fact check, and determine accuracy of claims.
Much of what we find on the internet has been stripped of context. It’s best to trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in its original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented. You might ask: