The information we find online may or may not be reliable. When working with websites, social media, and other online resources, use SIFT to evaluate them:
When you find a page or a post, stop and ask yourself if you know the source of the information or anything about the reputation of the claim, especially if you have a strong reaction to the content. Take a moment to reset, remembering the purpose of your research and what you plan to do with the information you find.
INVESTIGATE the source.
Take sixty seconds to figure out where the media is from before reading it. If you're reading a piece on economics by a Nobel prize-winning economist, you should know that before you read it. Conversely, if you’re watching a video on the many benefits of milk consumption that was put out by the dairy industry, you'll want to know that as well.
FIND trusted coverage.
Sometimes it's less important to know about the source and more importance to assess their claim. Look for credible sources that comment on the claim and compare information to determine whether there appears to be a consensus.
TRACE claims, quotes, and media back to the original context.
Sometimes online information has been removed from its original context (for example, a news story is reported on in another online publication or an image is shared on Twitter). Trace the information back to the original source to find out more about the original intent.
Modified from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves) and Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, which are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Want to be an expert fact checker? Read Mike Caufield's book, Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.
When fact checking claims-- especially in the news or social media-- the following websites may come of use:
Illinois State University
Campus Box 8900
201 North School Street
Normal, Il 61790-8900
Have comments or questions about our guides?
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