IDENTIFY THE SOURCE
The author of an article or internet content can be your biggest clue as to whether or not you can trust the information. Just like in a magazine or newspaper, online articles should be held to the same level of scrutiny. Think about these questions to help you unmask your source.
About the Author
- Is the author listed?
- Is the author with an organization or institution?
- Does the author list their credentials?
- Do the author's credentials have relevance to the information presented?
How was information for this article collected? Was it from first-hand account, second-hand accounts, or hear-say? Are the sources named or anonymous? Eyewitness testimonials are being trusted less and less in court because human memory can be easily manipulated after the fact. Make sure there are hard, indisputable facts to back up the information.
Does the author make obviously true statements to make it seem as though the argument he is making is obviously true too? The same goes for anecdotal evidence. Stories that have been passed around for decades, that you've probably heard a few versions of are examples of anecdotal evidence. Beware of statements presented as fact, when in reality, they are opinions.
How did you find this site? Was it a link from a reputable site/source? Things that get shared on the internet tend to get separated from their original author, and just like in a game of "Telephone," the facts and details get changed over time. If the information you are reading is a story from a friend-of-a-friend, make sure you get another source to back up the claims being made. An example of this is the story warning drivers not to flash their headlights at someone who has them off at night, because it is a gang initiation trick– the rumor being that they will kill the first person that flashes their headlights at them. This story has being going around since the early 1980's but every few years, it crops back up on the internet as new information. Often accompanied with, "My police officer friend told me this" or "from the Highway Safety Patrol" to give it credibility, when in fact it is just an outright lie.