How to Fact Check! Part 6: Reading Laterally…

…otherwise known as evaluating a website by looking at other websites.

In your travels online, you’ve probably come across websites you’re unfamiliar with. How do you know if you can trust their information?  “About” pages are nice, but they aren’t always an unbiased source of information. So first, you should look to see what other people have said about them.

There are three things you want to figure out:

  1. Process: what kind of fact-checking and verification standards does the publication have?
  2. Expertise: are they informed and qualified on the subject at hand?
  3. Aim: what ends are they trying to promote?

The easiest way to find out about a site is to use a search engine. For example, if you type in a website’s name in google as “sitename -site:sitename”, You’ll only get results that aren’t from the website itself.

For more information, check out Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers! It’s a great free ebook that has all kinds of insightful ways to improve your fact-checking prowess. If you like this series, check it out!