Four Moves for Fact-Checking
1. Check for previous work
Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
2. Go upstream to the source
Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
3. Read laterally
Read laterally. Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
4. Circle back
If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.
Caulfield, M. (2017). Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/.
For each scenario, A) Decide whether or not the claim is true, and B) Explain how you came to that conclusion on your handout. Be prepared to discuss the process you went through to find an answer.
Part I. Checking for Previous Work
For this section, you’ll want to use fact-checking websites to check for previous work on the topic.
You read an article from the website “Deep Left Field” claiming that Maine Senator Susan Collins’s husband is a “lobbyist for Russian interests” and the reason she voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was because she and her husband wanted to protect Russia’s interests in the U.S.
You came across this tweet accusing the CDC of removing information linking the polio vaccine to cancer. It’s a shocking claim, but you think that you would have heard about it if it was true, so you decide to fact check it.
Part II. Going Upstream
You came across a photo online that was described as being taken at the site of a bombing by the Irish Republican Army in London in the nineties. You’re skeptical because it seems like the type of photo that could be taken in the aftermath of any bombing or in any war zone.
Part III. Reading Laterally
You’re interested in learning more about whether or not fracking has an environmental impact and you come across a report by an organization called the Heartland Institute claiming to bust myths about fracking.
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