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How to Fact Check 13: Watch out for Sponsored Content!

So, you’re looking at a news story, and you see a juicy, clickbait-y title popping out at you from the sidebar. Should you click it?

Probably not!

Often, websites will import advertisements from other websites and promote them near news stories. They’ll look a lot like the regular articles from the website in question, but they won’t necessarily conform to the same editorial standards and journalistic processes which articles published by reputable news organizations do.

So how can you tell if the article you’re looking at is sponsored? Make sure you look for the word “sponsored” either above or below the article, and be wary of headlines you find under sections like “Around the Web.” It doesn’t mean that the article is bad, per se, but you should make sure to exercise caution if you plan to click.

For more information, be sure to check out The free Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers, as well as our numerous other posts on the topic.

Take Flight with Kapwing

Feeling frustrated with iMovie or other basic video editing software?

Try Kapwing!

Kapwing is a free online video editor that touts itself as being “Faster… simpler… [and] more accessible” than other editors, like iMovie. It’s a great way for people of all skill levels to have fun editing their favorite videos in a variety of different ways. You can filter it, reverse it, add music, add text, change the video speed, and more!

Oh yeah, it also allows you to make memes:

Know Your Judicial Candidates

So, you probably know your congressional candidates, but do you know your New York Judicial candidates?

Make sure with! shows you New York judicial candidates, ordered by county. They’ll also give you any information candidates have chosen to provide, including a biography and party stances. It can be a good quick resource to go to, even if it’s not quite exhaustive.

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 6th. Polls open at 6AM and stay open until 9PM.

Remember to check the back of your ballot! Special Referendum for Ulster County

Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s going to be a special referendum for Ulster County residents this coming midterm: The opportunity to make redistricting efforts for the Ulster County Legislature nonpartisan! The purpose of nonpartisan redistricting is to prevent gerrymandering.

According to Wikipedia, gerrymandering “is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries.” If this resolution is successful, Ulster County would be the first county in the state to combat this issue. Regardless of your political stances, this referendum is just another reason why it is important for you to go out and vote on Tuesday, November 6th.

For more information on this referendum, check out this Daily Freeman article, or see the referendum for yourself at the Ulster County board of elections website.

Have Health INSURANCE Questions? Ask Myrna and Eleanor! Tuesday, October 23rd at 5:30 pm

Need Health Insurance? Have Questions? Join us Tuesday, October 23rd at 5:30pm

Come for a general information session with NY State of Health Marketplace Certified Healthcare Navigator Myrna Capaldi and Medicare Outreach Coordinator Eleanor Minsky.

Ask questions regarding:

  • Medicaid 
  • Child Health Plus
  • Essential Plan
  • Qualified Health Plans
  • Medicare
  • Medicare Saving Programs
  • Medicare Advantage Plans.

One to one appointments in the weeks following the presentation might also be available.

How to Fact Check Part 12: Campaign Finance

Where do campaigns get their money?

Find out with!

Open Secrets is a website dedicated to cataloging the breakdown of political candidates’ campaign finances. They also have explanations of terms like PACs, so you can have some idea of what the rest of the website is talking about. You can start with the basics here. No matter your political alignment, this is a vital resource for documenting the monetary interests of your candidates.

According to NPR, this year’s midterm election could hit record voter turnout. In purple districts (like New York District 19, which includes the Town of Ulster) your vote is especially important. This makes it all the more vital that you educate yourself and become an informed voter using all sources available to you. Make your vote count!

Get BallotReady!

So you’re looking forward to voting in November, how do you find out who’s on the ballot?

Try BallotReady!

BallotReady is a service that allows you to see the candidates you’ll be voting on this November, separated by federal, state, and local levels. It also offers judicial offices and referendums, though their availability does vary by state and county. All you need to do is enter your address. That, combined with the resources we provided last week, should give you a good start towards being a well-informed voter.

Register to Vote!

With Midterm elections coming up in November, it’s important to get registered before October 10th so you can vote! Luckily, New York State offers online voter registration. Click here to get started. We also have paper ballots here at the library. Fun fact: when registering on paper, you only need the last four digits of your Social Security number or your DMV ID number. (Compared to online where you need both.)

If you want to see how your congressperson has voted in the last few years, make sure to check out GovTrack, a website detailing every issue that reaches congress and how your representatives vote on them. Make sure you stay educated!

Only 36.6% of eligible Americans voted in the 2014 midterm elections. Voting is a fundamental right. Exercise it!

Also, make sure you check out our previous voting resources post for information on polling places and other important information.

How to Fact Check! Part 11: Spotting Fake Reviews

Do you look at reviews on Amazon? Look harder!

FakeSpot points out bad Amazon, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Apple App Store reviews of products, letting you know if a large percentage of the reviews are fakes. Sometimes bots flood the reviews with five-star reviews. Sometimes Amazon removes negative reviews. Whatever the reason, the review section is not always the most as reliable as it first seems. Use Fakespot to double check!

From their about page:

How to Fact Check! Part 10: Wikipedia?!

This week, for our ongoing series on digital literacy, we’re going to take a look at the fact-checking power of Wikipedia!

We know what your English teachers are saying, but hear us out: Wikipedia may not be a viable source for academic papers, but when it comes to quickly checking the credibility of a claim or reading laterally to evaluate a website, it’s a good place to start.

Wikipedia has come a long way since its founding to become a reliable source of information. Its editors follow a strict protocol of neutral writing and sourcing for all articles. The quality of individual articles will still vary, however, so make sure to follow the sources they provide at the bottom of any page to investigate further.

As with the other resources we’ve shown off, Wikipedia should not be the only source you use. Reading laterally means, well, reading laterally. Use a breadth of sources in your quest for greater understanding. If you’re looking for more information, remember to check the Web Literacy for Student Factcheckers handbook. They’ve got a great section on the benefits of using Wikipedia.