RWS h.w. 11.7.18

How “News Literacy” Gets Web Misinformation Wrong Summary Notes:

  • Check for previous fact-checking work
  • Go upstream to the source
  • Read laterally
  • Fact checking claims
  • using special techniques to find out if what you are reading is factual and true
  • Even with sources as well-respected as the Wall Street Journal, you still have to make sure that their sources are correct
  • trusty domain search: ‘’, which tells Google to get all the pages that are talking about that aren’t from that site itself
  • Gauge your emotional reaction: Is it strong? Are you angry? Are you intensely hoping that the information turns out to be true? False?
    1. Reflect on how you encountered this. Was it promoted on a website? Did it show up in a social media feed? Was it sent to you by someone you know?
    2. Consider the headline or main message:
    3. Does it use excessive punctuation(!!) or ALL CAPS for emphasis?
    4. Does it make a claim about containing a secret or telling you something that “the media” doesn’t want you to know?
    5. Don’t stop at the headline! Keep exploring.
    6. Is this information designed for easy sharing, like a meme?
    7. Consider the source of the information:
    8. Is it a well-known source?
    9. Is there a byline (an author’s name) attached to this piece?
    10. Go to the website’s “About” section: Does the site describe itself as a “fantasy news” or “satirical news” site?
    11. Does the person or organization that produced the information have any editorial standards?
    12. Does the “contact us” section include an email address that matches the domain (not a Gmail or Yahoo email address)?
    13. Does a quick search for the name of the website raise any suspicions?
    14. Does the example you’re evaluating have a current date on it?
    15. Does the example cite a variety of sources, including official and expert sources? Does the information this example provides appear in reports from (other) news outlets?
    16. Does the example hyperlink to other quality sources? In other words, they haven’t been altered or taken from another context?
    17. Can you confirm, using a reverse image search, that any images in your example are authentic (in other words, sources that haven’t been altered or taken from another context)?

    10. If you searched for this example on a fact-checking site such as, or, is there a fact-check that labels it as less than true?

  • Comments can be useful, of course. When the trail has gone cold tracing a story to its source, often it’s a comment from someone that points the way to the original story. Sometimes a person points to an article on Snopes or Politifact.
  • By the way, this ability to read a page of results and form a hypothesis about the shape of a story based on a quick scan of all the information there — dates, URLS, blurbs, directory structure — that’s what mastery looks like, and that’s what you want your employees and citizens to be able to do, not count spelling errors.
  • News as source, and news as claim. It’s an epistemological hole that we put our students in, and to help them out of it we hand them a shovel.
  •   1. Sources are scarce and we must absolutely figure out this source instead of ditching it for a better one.
  • 2. Asking the web what it knows about a source is a last resort, after reading the about page, counting spelling errors, tallying punctuation, and figuring whether an author’s email address looks a bit fishy.
  • Above all, the World Wide Web is a web, and the way to establish authority and truth on the web is to use the web-like properties of it.
  • Those include looking for and following relevant links as well as learning how to navigate tools like Google which use that web to index and rank relevant pages.
  • And they include smaller things as well, like understanding the ways in which platforms like Twitter and Facebook signal authority and identity.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s