Module 7

Evaluating Information

This module covers how to evaluate information.

When you complete this module, you will be able to:

- evaluate information.
- use the Rule of 3.
- use the SIFT method.
- recognize fake news.

 

You probably already know to evaluate information you find on the Web. But did you know that you should also evaluate information you find in the library, on Facebook and Twitter, in newspapers, magazines, and journals, on the television, and any other place?

Although reputable sources try to create accurate and reliable information, they too can accidentally (or intentionally) give incorrect, bias, or askew information.

So you should always evaluate information.

One way to help you evaluate information is to verify the information with other sources, thus, the Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 or Triangulation is the verification of information across more than two sources. It is having at least three sources that confirm each other or backup your information.

It also expands your understanding and knowledge on a topic. By using more than two sources, you include more than one viewpoint or voice.

This allows you to:

  • enrich your research by having different explanations.
  • refute information.
  • confirm information.
  • explain unexpected information by supporting it with another source.

More information about triangulation

The SIFT method is four moves to fact check your sources.

They are:

  • Stop
  • Investigate the source
  • Find trusted sources
  • Trace to the original

The SIFT method was created by Mike Caulfied and is reused under a Creative Commons license.

Stop

When you find a website, video, article, etc., stop for a moment and consider if you know the website or source. If you don't know the reputation of the website or source, use the other moves to understand what you are looking at.  Don't use it or share the information until you know where it is coming from.

  • Do you know the website or source of the information?

Investigate the source

Examine the creators of the source.

  • What is their expertise?
  • What is their agenda for creating the source?
  • What do others (e.g. websites) say about the source?
  • Consult a fact checking site such as Snopes.com, Factcheck.org, or Politifact.com.
  • Do you know what you are reading?

Find trusted sources

Look for reputable and trusted sources.

  • Look for the best information on your topic.
  • Find sources that are more in-depth.
  • Are there more viewpoints on your topic?
  • Are there better sources on your topic?

Trace back to the original

Trace the information (e.g. quotes, videos) back to the original source.

  • What information was cut from the original?
  • What occurred before or after?
  • If it's a news story, was it accurately reported?
  • What is the context of the original source? Is it presented in the version you have?

Evaluating information is extremely important to confirm it is real and avoid fake news.

The fabrication of news isn't a new activity. Nor is mistakes that occur in news stories. However, what is new is the ability with social media to make fake news appear as coming from a legitimate source and to allow anyone to be a journalist and report "news" without verifying it.

Some creators of fake news want to influence you, but most want to deliver you to their advertisers in order to increase their revenue.

When you click on a link or post that takes you to their website, the advertisers with shown ads pay the webpage owner. This is called clickbait, content that entices you to click on the link with the main purpose of being taken to their website.

Another method to encourage you to read fake news is by falsely making posts appear popular with multiple likes. This is done by paying individuals to like their posts, creating false accounts to like their own posts, or installing malware that automatically likes their posts.

However, fake news doesn't require creating a website or manipulating readers to click on links. It can occur when information is innocently posted to social media with one's own conclusions and no verification of the facts.

  • Fact check and evaluate information before sharing or using it.
  • Find if the news is being reported by other sources especially reputable news providers.
  • Read beyond the headline and first few paragraphs. Fake news authors understand that most readers don't read beyond that point so make the first part seem credible.
  • Determine if it is real, fake, or satire. Satire news sources (e.g. The Onion, The Daily Show) use humor and exaggeration to criticize.
  • If you discover a fake news story, point it out in a non-confrontational manner.

Can you Spot the Troll? Test your skills at deciding if social media content is from legitimate source or a troll.

You have completed Module 7. You should now be able to:

green check mark evaluate information.

green check mark use the Rule of 3.

green check mark use the SIFT method.

green check mark recognize fake news.


You are ready for Module 8 - Using Information.