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Finding truth in the age of fake news: Tips on finding information you can trust

We’ve all heard the term fake news. You might even say it’s its own brand. People make careers out of it. In the fast-paced world of online news, where we all want to know everything and know it now, it’s easy to see why and how people are taking advantage of marketing information.

When it comes to staying informed about the issues that matter most to you, where do you go? Is there a specific website you trust? A certain news network you watch every evening? Do you scroll through your Twitter or Facebook feed and trust what you see there? Do you pick up an issue of the Globe and Mail every week and read it over coffee? Wherever you go for your news, here are some tips to consider when you’re looking for accurate information:

1. Diversify your sources. Make sure you’re never just relying on one person, one network,  or one social media account for all your news. Just like when you were (or are!) in school, you always wanted to be sure to get several different sources for a report. The more sources you look to, the more likely you are to spot inaccuracies, different points of views or verify information.

2. Use the CRAAP test. An apt acronym here, many libraries use this test to evaluate websites, looking at Currency (self-explanatory, be sure and check publication dates), Relevance (is this information important, more so when you’re looking at a specific subject), Authority (who is the author and do they have an agenda?) Accuracy (is the information backed up by evidence that is verifiable?) and Purpose (is this news meant to sell or to inform? To get people to take action or get angry?).

3. Google is your friend. If you found something on social media, Google it and in just a few seconds, you’ll be able to see if it’s being reported by other reputable, unbiased sources, or if it might have been exposed as false. It may also lead to further digging, but as a consumer of information and truth-seeker, you’re game for that, right?!

4. Get the net. When you have a decent understanding of the rules of the web, you can often spot fake information quickly. For example, often you can tell from a website’s url if the site may be fishy (though not always, so be vigilant). If a site ends with .co or .com.co instead of .com or .org for example, it may not be legit. If content is outdated but being featured or shared on social media, question it. Are there spelling errors or typos? Who is sharing, liking commenting on it on social media? We all know one of “those” people, so just be sure to factor that in as well.

Do you have any more tips or best practices for getting trustworthy information? Let us know on social media by tagging @carecanada!