Are you internet-savvy? The internet is filled with false information, but often students and adults need to find accurate information and data online.
While finding trustworthy information online can sometimes be difficult, these five simple tips can help you verify if you have found trustworthy or false information.
1. Check if the article is biased
With all of the information available online, there can be problems with guaranteeing you have found unbiased content, rather than false information. Normally data is used in selective ways to show information, so it can often be used to showcase one point of view. For instance, a website supporting one political party are likely to only post articles showing them in a positive light, which could mean you have found biased or false information.
The best way you can work out if the article is biased is to look at the author or company promoting the information; are they linked to the issue? Would it be beneficial for them to post this? Do you trust this person to speak on the area you are researching?
2. Check the author of the page
On any page you use, there should be a link to the author who wrote the piece. If there isn’t a link, this normally means that the information on the website could be inaccurate. Be wary if there is only one form of identification that you’ve never heard of and no other information. Search the information; does it show up anywhere else online? If it does, see what people are saying.
If there are links, check out the author. Is there information about them and an email address? Are they referenced by others online? Are they mentioned on the web on other sites? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, it is likely you are on a trustworthy website. If it isn’t, you could be looking at false information.
3. Check the content is verified
Websites can post information online, and often it helps to check and see if the information is correct. If the work is heavily referenced that often means the information is trustworthy, as other people and websites have verified the information.
It is also a good sign if the website shows you the method behind the work; check the site out and see if it mentions how it gathered the data. You can use the web or your local library to double-check whether the information is supported by others in the same field.
4. Check when the website was last updated
Often old articles containing false information will resurface and go viral online – mainly because many people didn’t check the date of the article. See how often the page is updated, or if it is a dead page (a page that is no longer updated or maintained by the author). If it is dead, it could mean the information is out-of-date and inaccurate, as well as hard to verify.
If the site is easy to navigate and regularly updated, it means the information is more likely to be current and correct. If the site provides dates for the data it includes, as well as publication dates, the information is even more likely to be accurate.
5. Check the company behind the website
Even if the author is reputable, it is worth double checking the team behind the website. If the website is copyrighted, that tends to be a good sign. The site should show the name of the publishers, or a watermark for their company.
If there isn’t a company or publishing body behind the website, it could mean the content is the opinion of the author, rather than fact. Be wary if this is the case – most accurate research and data clearly references the publishing body behind it, so it could be false information.
Check out these five things to figure out whether the information you’re looking at is valid or not!