It’s Media Literacy Week!

Break the fake: four tips to help you tell what’s true online

Do you feel like you don’t know who to trust on mainstream or social media? It can be tough to tell what’s true and what’s “fake news” just by looking at a headline.

And how do you know if the people making claims online can be trusted? Are they independent voices, or just peddling a product or pushing a conspiracy theory?

Media Literacy Week starts on October 7. With that in mind, here are four quick and easy steps to find out the truth and share good information. Sometimes you only have to do one of these things:

Tip # 1: Use Fact-Checking Tools

Sometimes a single search can break the fake, if a professional fact-checker like Snopes has already done the work for you.

The site has a search tool where you plug in a couple of keywords and discover if the item has been flagged as fake.

Or you can use MLW’s custom fact check search tool . Put the title or keywords in the simple search box.If no reliable fact-checker has covered the topic yet, move on to Tip # 2 – Find the Source or Tip # 3 – Check Other Sources.

Tip # 2 Find the Source

Because it’s so easy to copy and share things online, it’s important to find out where something originally came from before you decide whether or not to trust it.

The easiest way to find the source is usually to follow links that will lead you to the original story.

In social media like Facebook or Twitter, the link is usually at the end or bottom of thepost.

Tip # 3 Verify the Source

Whether you’re looking at a website, a photo or video, or a news story, what really matters is whether or not the people who originally created it are trustworthy. If the source isn’t reliable you have no reason to believe their information.

To find out if a source is reliable, ask three questions:

1 – Do they really exist?
“About Us” pages and profiles are easy to fake, so use a search engine or Wikipedia to research the credentials of the source.

Some social networks, like Twitter and Instagram, verify users by putting a blue check mark next to their name. This does not mean they’re necessarily a reliable source, but it does mean that they are who they say they are.

2 – Are they who they say they are?
It’s easy to pretend to be someone else online, so once you know the source really exists, you need to find out if what you’re looking at really came from them.

3 – Are they trustworthy?
For sources of general information, like newspapers, find out if they have a process for making sure they’re giving you good information.

For more specialized sources, find out whether they’re experts or authorities.

Tip # 4 Check Other Sources
The News tab is better than the main Google search for this step. While not every source that’s included is perfectly reliable, they are all news outlets that really exist.

MLW’s custom news search, searches ten Canadian and international sources of reliable news.

Make sure to take at least one of these steps to double-check before you share anything you see online, every time. Because only you can break the fake.


About Media Literacy Week

Media Literacy Week is an annual national campaign hosted by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers Federation to promote digital and media literacy, with activities and events taking place in classrooms, libraries, museums and community groups from coast to coast.

Author: Monique

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