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Evaluating Sources

Check the bias and factuality of online sources

The Miseducation of Dylann Roof

Algorithms within search tools affect the results we see. This opinion piece from the New York Times, "How to Monitor Fake News," Tom Wheeler suggests a way to open up social media algorithms to public scrutiny without compromising individual privacy.

This video from the Southern Poverty Law Center shows how the Google searching algorithm effectively narrowed the perspective of Dylann Roof.

Information and news comes in a variety of unreliable forms

Consider the wide variety of misinformation on the Internet that you have to wade through to find reliable information and news.

  • Fake News: Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.
  • Altered Photographs: Photographs that have been changed using software or manipulation of the negative to enhance the image or deceive the viewer. Many changes are sophisticated enough that only software or a keen eye can detect the alteration, unlike the Bernie memes.
  • DeepFakes: Use of video software to create events that never happened or distort a person's statements for propaganda purposes or to discredit public figures for political gain.
  • Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, satire, and false information to comment on current events.
  • State-sponsored News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanctions and control. Propaganda.
  • Junk Science: Sources that promote discredited conspiracy theories, naturalistic fallacies, and scientifically false or dubious claims.
  • Hate News: Sources that actively promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination.
  • Clickbait: Sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.

And even news and information that looks reliable because of where you found it should still be verified.

  • Proceed With Caution: Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification.
  • Political: Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
  • Credible: Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism. (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information).

Adapted from Cornell University's "Fake News, Propaganda, and Misinformation: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources: Unreliable News Content - Types"

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