Social media can be a beautiful thing. It can help you keep in touch with friends and family, learn about new events, and provide general entertainment. However, social media and website can be crawling with misinformation. This post is dedicated to giving you the tools to be the best fact-checker you can be.

1. Do a CRAP test

You may have heard of this test before but if not let’s review. CRAP stands for:

Currency

  • How recent is the information?
  • How recently has the website been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?

Reliability

  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is the content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is it balanced?
  • Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author?
  • What are the credentials? Can you find any information about the author’s background?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor?
  • Are they reputable?
  • What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
  • Are there advertisements on the website? If so, are they cleared marked?

Purpose/Point of View

  • Is this fact or opinion? Does the author list sources or cite references?
  • Is it biased? Does the author seem to be trying to push an agenda or a particular side?
  • Is the creator/author trying to sell you something? If so, is it clearly stated?
  • Whenever you are reading an article keep CRAP in mind.

It is important to ask yourself these questions when reading an article. This can help you filter out a lot of misinformation. Remember when reading an article keep CRAP in mind.

2. Verifying the Truth

Let’s be honest. There is a lot of information out there, from online articles to YouTube videos, and even memes. How can you weed out what is fact versus fiction? The following sites provide an awesome job of fact-checking common claims that get circulated on the internet.

  1. Snopes.com is a fact-checking website. Members of the public can submit a claim, and researchers will investigate it for legitimacy and assign it one of several rankings, ranging from “true” and “mostly true” to “false” and “legend.”
  2. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania that monitors the factual accuracy of politicians’ statements.
  3. PolitiFact is a fact-checking website, created by the Tampa Bay Times and acquired in 2018 by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit education center for journalists. It features a “truth-o-meter,” which rates the accuracy of statements in the news and assigns it one of six ratings, ranging from “true” to “pants on fire.”

Before you share, retweet, mass message, or do literally anything else with an article, video, or meme you found online FACT CHECK IT! This can help stop the spread of misinformation.

Real-world practice time, is this post true or false?

Answer: False- https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cadbury-hiv-arrest/

Take a moment to think of what could have been the effects of sharing this post?

People could be afraid to eat Cadbury products. People who have eaten Cadbury products may start to panic and seek medical treatment. Cadbury as a company could lose money due to false claims. The spread of misinformation has consequences.  

3. Beware the Bias and Clickbait

Everyone has a bias and that bias can leak itself into articles. What do you think that looks like for the information in the article? It can make the author skew the information in favor of their bias. A good way to detect the bias in an article is to look at the words the author is using and how they are describing both sides. Bias even creeps into news channels. A great tool to check a see how an event is being reported and to find the best middle of the road article is to use allsides.com. This site takes articles and looks at how the right, left and center are reporting on the same event. This site can easily help you find the least biased reporting.

Now let’s talk about clickbait. Clickbait means a title that is kept vague or scandalous to make people click on it such as an article heading “You Won’t Believe What This Woman Found in Her Toilet!” Articles that use clickbait headlines are usually not the most reliable. Their whole goal is to be sensational, not factual! An online tool that can help you avoid clickbait sites is NewsGuard. This handy web browser extension grades the sites that information comes from and breaks down the site’s grade into a nutrition label explanation.

Working together we can all stop the spread of misinformation!